Experts say one training session won't be enough to solve the coffee chain's problems. 

Elisabeth Sherman
July 03, 2018

Starbucks recently shut down 8,000 stores in order to conduct anti-racial bias training for 175,000 employees, following an incident in which two African-American men were wrongly arrested in a Philadelphia location of the chain. And while it's a start, independent advisers say that Starbucks still has a long way to go when it comes to achieving total racial equity within the company.

According to CNN, two (unpaid) civil rights experts—Heather McGhee, the former president of a liberal-leaning think tank called Demos, and current president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund Sherrilyn Ifill—conducted a study of Starbucks' business practices, and concluded that the company needs a “racial equity overhaul.”

The report recommends that Starbucks should continue to conduct “internal audits,” looking for any remaining bias in the company’s customer service practices. The researchers also criticized Starbucks for not including clearer information about how to address racial bias in its employee handbooks.

One solution McGhee and Ifill suggest is a “customer bill of rights,” which would inform patrons about how to report any instances of discrimination. They also urge Starbucks to hire a permanent, independent “racial equity consultant” who would help plan future racial bias training sessions, which Starbucks has promised it will continue to conduct. The first of these sessions will address “understanding the realities and impact of discrimination." While stores will not close for future training sessions, which are slated to take place later this summer, employees will be expected to attend.

McGhee believes that the steps outlined in the Starbucks report can be applied to any company that has experienced similar setbacks, or merely wants to improve customer relations.

“It’s really important that we wrote this report with an audience of Starbucks, but also with an audience of other corporations that might want to take steps to address racism in their company,” McGhee told the Washington Post.