Not that the company hasn’t brought this on itself by pandering to every protected class in existence, but Starbucks is damned if does and damned if it doesn’t. Besides firing its Philadelphia branch manager for her supposed racism in calling the cops on two black customers who refused to leave when asked, the coffee retailer agreed to close down 8,000 domestic locations on May 29 to conduct “unconscious bias training” sessions.
The cost of this PR gesture in lost revenue is estimated at around $12 million, according to MarketWatch. So how grateful is the black community at Starbucks’s magnanimous gesture? So much so that black activists want the government to investigate the company for violating its employees’ civil rights.
Stacy Washington, co-chair of the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Project 21, writes at the organization’s website:
Not only does implicit bias training on the part of employers eat up valuable time that could be spent training employees on safety, teamwork and building morale, the targeting associated with bias training is divisive. When employees are trained to focus on their differences, the camaraderie necessary to work together is destroyed. Mistrust in fellow coworkers is sown, and those the training is intended to help are actually harmed in the long run. Employees should not be forced to utilize methods that have no track record of success.
A letter written by by Washington’s co-chair, Horace Cooper, and sent jointly to the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, adds:
Employers are increasingly adopting so-called “implicit bias” training, which targets employees by race or gender. Not only are the tests associated with unconscious bias well short of meeting scientific standards, but – because they purport to aid employers in targeting employees primarily based on their race or ethnicity and/or their gender – they potentially allow employees to be assessed, disciplined or promoted on the basis of race or gender activity which Title VII specifically bars. Whether based on good intentions or not, an employer’s plan to hire, promote or advance employees who are minority and/or female using implicit bias as a motive disadvantages non-minority and male employees.
Starbucks has not yet responded to these actions, though it will be interesting to see how the company will atone for this latest crime against humanity.