Culture

Starbucks Executive Chairman Howard Schultz Is ‘Ashamed’ By The Arrests Of Black Men In A Philly Store

Following the announcement of nationwide racial-bias training at Starbucks (which will simultaneously close all 8,000 stores for an afternoon), Executive Chairman Howard Schultz is expressing his anguish over the recent incident that led to widespread backlash. As a result, the company has been battling a growing boycott movement after footage of two black men being arrested at a Philly store went viral. Given that the two men did nothing other than request to use the restroom, multiple apologies have followed, and Schultz has visited with CBS This Morning‘s Gayle King to relay his own mortification over the debacle.

Schultz, the former CEO of the company, says that this training “will cost millions of dollars,” but he considers this amount to be an investment, rather than an expense. He also says that Starbucks is “better than this,” and he’s utterly dismayed over what happened:

“I’m embarrassed, ashamed. I think what occurred was reprehensible at every single level. I think I take it very personally as everyone in our company does and we’re committed to making it right. The announcement we made yesterday about closing our stores, 8,000 stores closed, to do significant training with our people is just the beginning of what we will do to transform the way we do business and educate our people on unconscious bias.”

Schultz also confirmed reports that the manager who summoned law enforcement to the store is no longer working for Starbucks, and he has “no doubt” that the call was made because the men weren’t white. Yet Schultz believes this may not simply be an “isolated” occurrence, which is why Starbucks is going to great lengths to provide further training — while enlisting NAACP Counsel and President of Legal Defense Fund Sherrilyn Ifill — for the company’s 175,000 employees.

CNN Money reports that CEO Kevin Johnson’s desired meeting for a “face-to-face” apology to the two men has happened, and Schultz told King that he wishes to meet with them as well, which he hopes will produce some “reconciliation.” As for the millions of dollars that Starbucks will spend on the upcoming training (including the loss of an entire afternoon of nationwide business), this seems like a tiny price to pay in exchange for earning some goodwill after an awful incident.

(Via CBS News & CNN Money)

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