June 11, 2018 9:51 am
Updated: June 11, 2018 10:41 am

Starbucks across Canada closing early Monday for anti-bias training: Here’s what to know

ABOVE: Racial bias training by Starbucks gets mixed reaction.


Many Starbucks locations across Canada are closing Monday afternoon for sensitivity and bias training following the unprovoked arrest of two young African American men at a Philadelphia store in April.

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The 1,100 company-operated stores will close after 2 p.m. for employees to “come together for a conversation and learning session on race, bias, and inclusion,” Starbucks Canada president Michael Conway said in a letter.

READ MORE: Starbucks to train workers on ‘unconscious bias’ after arrest of black men, CEO says

“This isn’t just about the events of Philadelphia, or about race, or about social challenges in America. This is about humanity. This is universal. None of us are immune. And at Starbucks Canada, it’s about everyone who crosses the threshold feeling safe and welcome.”

He said the training will also be made available online.

What time is Starbucks closed in Canada?

The training is scheduled for 3 p.m. local time. Most Starbucks across the country will be closed anytime between 2-2:30 p.m. local time.

READ MORE: Black men arrested at Philadelphia Starbucks settle with city for $1 each, $200K pledge

Are all Starbucks closed?

Only corporately owned Starbucks will be closed.

Why are they closing?

The training comes more than a month after the Seattle-based company publicly apologized for the arrest of two who had been refused permission to use the washroom of a Starbucks coffee shop in Philadelphia. A Philadelphia police spokesman said Starbucks employees called 911 after the men refused to leave.

WATCH: Two black men arrested for not purchasing anything at Starbucks in Philadelphia

The arrests prompted protests at the Starbucks and a national boycott.

CEO Kevin Johnson was quick to apologize and call the arrests “reprehensible,” and met with the men that were arrested.

Last month, the company ordered more than 8,000 U.S. Starbucks stores to close on the afternoon of May 29 so that nearly 175,000 employees can receive training on unconscious bias, but said at the time it had not decided whether to follow suit in Canada.

The goal of the sensitivity training is to prevent discrimination at any location.

Is a half-day of sensitivity training enough?

After the racial-bias education in the U.S., there was a mixed reaction on its effectiveness (especially in half-a-day).

One Starbucks employee in Florida complained that the training was too generalized, according to the Cut.

“They didn’t really give specifics of how to approach certain situations, or how they planned as a company to include everyone, except that everyone is a customer that walks into our store, even if they don’t buy anything,” the employee told the media outlet. “In my opinion, the training was a waste of four hours.”

WATCH: What the Starbucks shutdown means for customers and employees

Another Starbucks employee said the training was worth it and “will combat bias.”

A 2016 review into 260 diversity training studies found that longer and more interactive sessions led to better results. When employees had more opportunities to connect with employees who were different from them, the lessons were more likely to stick.

Another 2017 study published in Sage Journals, argued that four-hour diversity training initiatives do not work — and more time is needed. The author, Mike Noon, of the School of Business and Management at Queen Mary University of London,  said that knowing bias exists does not lead to changes in behaviour.

READ MORE: Starbucks adopts ‘open bathroom’ policy after racism backlash

The paper argued that such trainings are quick-fix solutions that don’t address the complexity of racism. But, the author adds that ongoing, conversations involving a wide range of employees do help.

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