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Starbucks across Canada closing early Monday for race sensitivity training

Starbucks Canada locations will close early on Jun. 11, 2018 for race sensitivity training following an incident in the US earlier in the year. This sign was posted at the Starbucks location at Cambie St. and 8th Ave. in Vancouver. (John Ackermann, NEWS 1130 Photo)

Following in the steps of US locations, Starbucks in Canada will close early for unconscious bias training

Race sensitivity training for Starbucks Canada employees means locations will close early on Jun. 11

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Starbucks locations across Canada will close early on Monday afternoon so workers can receive unconscious bias training.

It follows an incident where two black men were arrested at a coffee shop in Philadelphia in April when the manager called police on the pair whose only crime was sitting in the Starbucks without ordering anything. In the end, it turned out they were just waiting for a friend to join them.

“Training is a good first step,” explains workplace specialist Debbie Carreau, CEO of Inspired HR.

She defines unconscious bias like this. “The automatic association people have in their minds about groups of people, including things like stereotypes.”

So, how you do train someone against something they don’t even know they’re doing?

Carreau says it’s all about raising awareness.

“The term that [Starbucks] is using is ‘conscious inclusion,’ [so] trying to teach people to be conscious of things that, over time they’ve developed stereotypes in their minds… so, consciously making sure we’re not making mistakes like what happened in the Starbucks in Philadelphia.”

She adds the bias can take many forms. “When you look at job applicants, white job applicants get 50 per cent more call-backs than black applicants with the same resume.”

Carreau is applauding Starbucks for closing up shop for this. “The fact that they acknowledged it and that they actually trained 175,000 people in itself was a success, but as long as they acknowledge that it’s a first step and that alone is not going to change this.”

The goal of this race sensitivity training is to prevent discrimination at any location and the company says it will involve 1,095 locations and about 20,000 employees.

On May 29, Starbucks temporarily shut down 8,000 US locations for similar training.