Coffee chain Starbucks has closed all its 8,000 company-owned stores in the United States for an afternoon of “racial bias” training.
Approximately 175,000 employees are involved. The aim is to prevent discrimination in Starbucks cafes.
The move comes after the company had me in the last month, the arrest of two black men who were waiting to meet someone at a Starbucks cafe in Philadelphia.
After the incident, the protesters are a Starbucks boycott call.
Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson apologized on behalf of the company, to take promising measures.
Starbucks race row leaves customers with a bitter aftertasteWhat is it with Tuesday’s workout?
Cafes Starbucks, driving in the USA at about 14:00 local time.
Employees are taught how to treat unconscious bias, in an effort to ensure that all customers are treated fairly.
The closure could cost an estimated $20 (£15m) in lost sales
Employees watch videos about the bias with company executives and rapper Common, the company said in a statement, a preview of the “curriculum”.
“We know that four hours of training does not solve racial inequality in America”, Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz told CNN on Tuesday.
“We need to have the conversation. We need to start.”
In an open letter to customers on Tuesday, Mr Schultz, thanked them for their “patience and support as we renew our promise to you, Starbucks… an inclusive meeting place for all”.
At the same time, about 6,000 licensed Starbucks cafes will remain open, at the airports and grocery shops. Those who are trained there, later.
The merits of Tuesday’s training are controversial, the BBC’s Rajini Vaidyanathan reports.
Some Starbucks have vowed, but others see it as a publicity stunt that will do little to end the continuing problem of racial profiling in the United States, our correspondent says.What happened last month in Philadelphia?
Young black entrepreneurs Rashon Nelson and Donte ‘ Robinson were waiting to meet in a local Starbucks to someone and had nothing bought, if the store Manager called the police.
Amateur video showed the police the placement of the couple, who were accused, by the shop-employees from trespassing, in handcuffs.
“All the other white people wonder why it never happened with us, if we do the same,” tweeted customer Melissa DePino, who posted a video of the incident.
Mr Johnson said the video “hard to watch”, and that the measures that were taken, “false” and “reprehensible”.
Casting a wider breed spotlight
Analysis by Rajini Vaidynathan, BBC, Washington
Shortly after 2 p.m. the last customers were ushered out of this Starbucks store in Washington, DC, and the doors were locked.
That has not stopped a steady stream of people come for the afternoon fix of caffeine – they were instead a sign welcomes explains at the door that for the rest of the day training for employees to get to Starbucks, “a place where everyone feels that they belong”.
Some of them have the racial-awareness session to be dismissed as nothing more than a publicity stunt, but most of the customers felt in this Shop earlier in the day, it was a step in the right direction.
The treatment of Donte ‘Robinson, and Rashon Nelson at a Starbucks in Philadelphia last month, has undoubtedly cast light on the broader question of the “racial profiling” in this country.
But for many black Americans, it was not surprising – the feeling of being unwelcome in public spaces, an unpleasant part of daily life for decades – to fix the a afternoon workout will not be able to.
Mr. Nelson and Mr. Robinson later reached a financial settlement with Starbucks and the city of Philadelphia.
She agreed, received a symbolic $ 1 in damages. City officials also promised the establishment of a scheme for young entrepreneurs.
The offer includes a vow from the city of 200,000 US dollars (£147,000) to contribute to its financing.
The store manager called the police, since the company has left.