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'Unconscious bias' training day at Starbucks

Penny Brooks

29th May 2018

This is the day when Starbucks will close 8,000 stores in the US in order to give all its staff a four-hour anti-bias training seminar. This follows the scandal when the firm had to apologise over last month's arrest of two black men who were waiting to meet someone in a Starbucks in Philadelphia.

It is estimated that the closure will cost them $20million in lost sales, and it raises the question, "Can Starbucks end staff racism in a day?" As an example, here is a video report about a training session for charity workers held in Richmond, Virginia in the US, which has the same objective, but is for workers who have clearly volunteered for the training.

As CNBC offers a list of five things that Starbucks must do to make sure that the training is effective, they start with the critical factor that training must align the staff's approach to customers with the corporate culture. As Starbucks trains its employees to make a cup of coffee the Starbucks way, it must also train its employees to treat customers in the Starbucks way. "Brands and employees go together and if one or the other isn't aligned, a crisis will brew," according to Mark Macias, founder and owner of Macias PR, a New York City-based public relations agency.

The advice ends with the need to make the process continual, not just a one-off four hour event. The training must become part of the cafe's on-boarding process for new employees, or it will be hard for it to become embedded.

Penny Brooks

Formerly Head of Business and Economics and now Economics teacher, Business and Economics blogger and presenter for Tutor2u, and private tutor

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