PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) — Coffee giant Starbucks shuttered its doors early on Tuesday for customers but anti-bias training for employees was going on behind the closed doors.
The move comes a month after the controversial arrests of two black men at a Starbucks in Philadelphia.
After the incident, the company’s leaders apologized, met with the men and scheduled an afternoon of training for 175,000 employees at more than 8,000 U.S. stores.
“People are people and the first thing you should start with is treating people with respect,” one man tells CBS3.
“I think it’s good. Looks like they’re reacting to it,” another man said.
In the Philadelphia incident, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were asked to leave after one was denied access to the bathroom. They were arrested by police minutes after they sat down to await a business meeting.
The arrest was recorded by cellphone and triggered protests, boycott threats and debate over racial profiling, or what has been dubbed “retail racism.” It proved a major embarrassment for Starbucks, which has long cast itself as a company with a social conscience.
Nelson and Robinson settled with Starbucks for an undisclosed sum and an offer of a free college education. They also reached a deal with the city of Philadelphia for a symbolic $1 each and a promise from officials to establish a $200,000 program for young entrepreneurs.
Starbucks said the arrests never should have occurred. It has since announced anyone can use its restrooms, even people not buying anything.
“We’re here to make Starbucks a place where everyone, everyone feels welcome,” said Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson after the incident.
On Tuesday night, Starbucks released the curriculum for anti-bias training.
PREVIEW OF STARBUCKS’ ANTI-BIAS TRAINING
Patrons say they don’t mind missing out of their afternoon pick-me-up if it means a change for the brand.
“I think any company small or large should be taking training like that seriously. I think everyone should be treated equally,” said Ali Stamm.
At a taped forum in Center City about race relations Tuesday night, those in the audience say what happened inside this Starbucks promoted an important conversation.
“Getting everybody more involved especially people that are not black or Hispanic, but getting white folks involved,” said Isaac Lester.
Starbucks has not said how much the training will cost the company or how much money it expects to lose from closing the stores during what is usually its least busy time of day.
“It’s quite expensive,” Chairman Howard Schultz said Tuesday. “We’ve had certain shareholders call and say, ‘How much is this going to cost and how do you justify this?’ My answer to them was simply: We don’t view it as an expense. We view it as an investment in our people and the long-term cultural values of Starbucks.”
Starbucks has said the instruction will become part of how it trains all its workers.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)