Here’s How Starbucks Can Improve Racial Equality, According to Independent Report
Combating racial bias has been top of mind for Starbucks since April 12, when a Philadelphia store employee called the police on two black men who were waiting for a business meeting to start and had not yet bought drinks.
On Monday, an independent report spelled out how Starbucks and other corporations can better foster racial equity.
The report, led by Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, and Heather McGhee, distinguished senior fellow of the public policy organization Demos, praised Starbucks’ quick response to the incident. That included the company closing all 8,000 of its U.S. stores on May 29 for racial bias training.
The lead authors, who worked in conjunction with other organizations on the report, said the incident and Starbucks’ response helped spark a national discussion of racial equality in public spaces, and the importance of shaping internal corporate policy. The authors also laid out a series of recommendations for the company, stressing that the May 29 racial bias training must be the “first step in a longer, deeper and more engaged commitment to an equity transformation.”
The other recommendations for Starbucks include:
- Conduct a series of assessments to gain more clarity about what needs to be done. Recommended assessments include a customer service bias/consumer profiling audit, a civil rights audit, an employee equity assessment, a community survey, and staff and management reporting.
- Train and evaluate managers and company leaders on cultural competency and managing diverse teams.
- Changing the store operations manual and partner guide to include, among other things, a customer bill of rights. The company should also gain an understanding of the “reality of racial discrimination and bias.”
- Engage with communities, which includes everything from taking the time to locally source products, to engaging with the realities of gentrification associated with the addition of a Starbucks to a community — AKA the “Starbucks effect.”
- Encouraging local police to undergo anti-bias training.
- Create expectations for when police should be called and create an alternative option to calling the police when dealing with addiction or homelessness when they present themselves in stores (and creating a connection with community resources).
The report also included additional recommendations from Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson, the two men arrested at the Philadelphia Starbucks.
A Starbucks spokeswoman responded to the report by telling Fortune: “We appreciate the recognition from Ms. McGhee and Ms. Ifill that we tried to respond quickly and with an unequivocal commitment to address racial bias and discrimination. We also recognize that we will always have more work to do, and we know that it will take deep and thoughtful engagement to get there.”
On Monday, the company published a post discussing next steps including a “12-month curriculum that is being created by experts inside and outside of Starbucks” for leaders and managers. Starbucks has already introduced a “Community Resource Card” that employees can call for local services, and it changed its policy to allow patrons to sit in the store or use the restroom without making a purchase.