Amid outcry over the arrest of two black men in a Philadelphia Starbucks, the coffee chain announced Tuesday it will close more than 8,000 U.S. stores for an afternoon next month to train workers in “racial-bias education.”
The stores will be shuttered on the afternoon of May 29, the company said in a press release, and its corporate offices will also be closed at that time. And nearly 175,000 employees will undergo the training.
“I’ve spent the last few days in Philadelphia with my leadership team listening to the community, learning what we did wrong and the steps we need to take to fix it,” Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said in a statement. “While this is not limited to Starbucks, we’re committed to being a part of the solution.”
The stakes have been high for the coffee giant, and brand reputation experts said the company had a narrow window of time to tamp down public outrage.
“Closing our stores for racial bias training is just one step in a journey that requires dedication from every level of our company and partnerships in our local communities,” Johnson said.