Legal Blog

Shutting Down Starbucks

Starbucks’ Training Day and Diversity Training in Business

Last week, Starbucks closed down all 8,000 of its retail stores for several hours. This move was unprecedented given Starbucks’ size and market share.  The reason? Mandatory diversity training for all employees.

Starbucks decision to shut down stores and focus on training was the result of a well-publicized incident in one of its Philadelphia stores attributed to racial bias.  Starbucks received extreme backlash and several days of boycotts due to the behavior of one employee.

How do other companies protect against similar situations? It is possible to prevent bias without halting operations and dealing with the public relations nightmares. Companies of all sizes should keep the following tips in mind:

  1. Create or update your company diversity policy/handbook. Times change – and so does the law and public perception. Creating /updating a policy that is both legally accurate and practical to implement is the backbone of a successful diversity program.
  1. Make trainings regular. The way to avoid losing profits and harming the public /employees is to make diversity training a mainstay. Injecting reminders at regular meetings – as well as dedicating time to “teachable moments” surrounding incidents that may occur saves time and issues in the long run.
  1. Turn to professionals. Concerned that training on bias will be met with allegations of bias? Discrimination training must be approached in a sensitive manner and with correct information. Relying on professionals, such as employment attorneys, to assist with the development of training and policies ensures that what is taught will not further perpetuate bias/open up liability.

Would you like to discuss your company’s diversity training and related policies?

Contact Employment Attorney Theodora Stringham to discusss or 703-745-1849.





Theodora Stringham assists clients with resolving employment disputes by focusing on building policies and trainings aimed at preventing discrimination in the workplace. Theodora also provides litigation support for discrimination claims, termination issues, and administrative agency disputes, among other matters. She has previously represented both employees and management and is available to provide employment counseling aimed at reaching workplace resolutions in a direct and effective manner.







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