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Fixing Racism Is a Tall Order for Starbucks—But They’re Game to Try


Nothing, it seems, has been more difficult to remedy than the issue of racism and implicit bias in this country, but this week, coffeehouse juggernaut Starbucksattempted to at least begin the conversation when they shut down more than 8,000 of their stores for a day of racial bias training following the April arrest of two black men in a Philadelphia location, sending the internet into a flurry of think pieces and expert quotes that had people wondering: Can a day of company training really fix a problem of this scope? [...]

“This wasn’t just a thing that was nice to do," said Heather McGhee, president of equal-rights public policy organization Demos and an outside advisor to the training. "The executives had to believe and communicate that they couldn’t succeed as a business without addressing this issue,” McGhee said. “And I think they actually did that.”

Chafing at criticism that the training was more symbolic than effective, McGhee reiterated what the company has been saying since the bias workshop was announced—this isn’t just a one-day fix.

“I think that most of the commentary has really focused on the ‘one day’ because that’s the information that’s mostly out there, but the company has tried to get the message out that they know that one day is just the start,” she told “They’re looking at ongoing, deeper training as well as reviews of their systems and practices and procedures so that the message is continuously reinforced.” [...]

“I think it needs to be a national effort…there’s so much misunderstanding about the way race and bias work in the human mind,” McGhee said. “If we’re going to be a diverse democracy, we’ve got to all—as people in this country—have better skills at interacting across lines of race.”