Starbucks to close this afternoon for anti-bias training

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The half-day closure was announced after video of police arresting two black men in a Philadelphia Starbucks in April, caused outrage.

Starbucks is closing thousands of stores early on May 29 for racial-bias training.

Within 24 hours, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson called the incident "reprehensible" and apologized to the men. "It's only certain employees who are like that".

The chain is shutting down about 8,000 company-owned locations from 2-3 p.m. local time for the training.

The merits of Tuesday's training are hotly debated, the BBC's Rajini Vaidyanathan reports. Another asked employees to think about where they "feel a sense of belonging".

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Others visiting the store questioned whether the training would make a difference or suggested it was overkill.

Even with the training, however, Sarah Gaither, a Duke assistant professor of psychology, expressed doubt that the company's effort would be enough. "It's been addressed", she said. From there, employees will "move into a real and honest exploration of bias" where, in small groups, they can share how the issue comes up in their daily work life. So they sat at a table and waited for the person with whom they were scheduled to meet. It's created to get people to open up about implicit biases and stereotypes in encountering people of color, gender or other identities.

On Tuesday JAB Holdings, the private investment company of Germany's billionaire Reimann family, said it bought a majority stake in British sandwich and coffee shop chain Pret A Manger for $2 billion, expanding its reach into the coffee sector, where it also battles Nescafe and Nespresso maker Nestle (NESN.S). More trainings will follow. Police said the men were arrested after a Starbucks manager asked them to leave because they hadn't bought anything and asked to use the restroom, which is against company policy. It proved a major embarrassment for Starbucks, which has long cast itself as a company with a social conscience. There were nationwide protests and boycotts, and the city of Philadelphia also ended up settling with the men-the two got a symbolic $1 each, plus a promise of a $200,000 education program for young entrepreneurs. They were arrested for trespassing. What Starbucks is doing is performative, not productive: The showy approach may win over public opinion and bring back lost sales, but it will not actually make the kind of impact they're hoping for. She said that should happen only when there is a provocation or danger.

"I think that it's important, because. certain things. you do notice that people do", said Morgan Mason, a barista at the O Street Washington Starbucks. That's about $7 million across all 8,000 company-owned stores in the U.S. "A lot of those employees won't be here next year or two years or three years down the line".

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