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The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund (LDF) issued a powerful call to Starbucks to further fight racial bias at its stores. The coffee chain’s May 29 anti-racial bias training wasn’t enough and more work is needed, said Demos, the NAACP LDF and research and policy center, in a 28-page report released Monday (July 2).

Starbucks held a training for its employees and closed its doors to customers in the wake of a racial profiling incident at a Philadelphia location on April 12. Two 23-year-old Black men — Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson— were arrested after a Starbucks manager called the cops on them while they were sitting and waiting for a business partner in an incident that sparked national outrage.

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Wide-reaching changes were suggested by Demos and the NAACP LDF, including that Starbucks conduct an in-depth “Civil Rights Audit” to examine its policies, racial diversity, pay practices and processes. Officials recommended that the coffee chain regularly audit its 8,000 stores for racial profiling and attack any bias within its ranks of 175,000 employees. It was also suggested that Starbucks pay for anti-bias training for police, particularly in communities of color where the coffee chain’s presence may exasperate racial tension as being a sign of gentrification in a neighborhood. Officials believe that Starbucks will also benefit by forming connections with local leaders and nonprofits in the communities where it provides service.

With the suggested guidelines, Starbucks can start promoting racial equity and inclusion, said NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund President Sherrilyn Ifill and Demos president Heather McGhee who wrote the report.

The report came as Starbucks also announced new anti-bias training modules for managers and baristas. They plan is to implement a new training program over the next year with six courses for managers and six for employees.

Demos and NAACP LDF officials want Starbucks to incorporate their recommendations as it goes about revamping its operations. Concerns were expressed not only about catering to customers of color without discrimination, but to employees of color who need weekly hours to earn living wages, union support and better retention-related procedures for professional development. Potential employees also need to go through interviews and hiring processes devoid of implicit bias in order to increase racial hires at all organizational levels, Ifill and McGhee said in the report.

Nelson and Robinson also suggested that Starbucks sponsor an SAT and college prep program for public school students in Philadelphia.

Starbucks — who announced a policy in May to open its cafes to nonpaying customers, as well as to instruct employees not to call police unless necessary — said they are open to the recommendations and want to do more in a statement.


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