NAACP To Starbucks: You Need A ‘Civil Rights Audit’ Of 8,000 Stores For Racial Profiling

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Written by Dana Sanchez

Starbucks may be contributing to racial tension by gentrifying neighborhoods and the company should consider paying for anti-bias training of local law enforcement in minority communities where it has stores, according to the civil rights group, the NAACP.

It’s going to take a lot more than an afternoon of anti-bias training to get rid of racial bias among Starbucks’ 175,000 employees, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund said in a report.

A Philadelphia Starbucks manager triggered protests after she called the police on April 12 to report two African-American men who were waiting for a friend.

The two men, Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson, were jailed for eight hours. They released the city and its employees of all claims in exchange for $1 each and the creation of a $200,000 fund that will assist young entrepreneurs in Philadelphia.

NAACP to Starbucks
Protesters gather outside a Starbucks in Philadelphia, Sunday, April 15, 2018. Photo: Ron Todt/AP

Starbucks was praised for its response, which included firing the employee and shutting down 8,000 stores for racial bias training on May 29. However, that is not enough, according to the NAACP report.

Starbucks needs to regularly audit its 8,000 stores for racial profiling, update its policy manuals, and conduct an in-depth “Civil Rights audit” to look at racial diversity, pay practices and processes, the civil rights group said in a 28-page report released Monday.

The NAACP has been advising Starbucks, CNBC reported. The report was written by Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, and Heather McGhee, president of Demos, a public policy organization.

Starbucks announced Monday that it plans to roll out a new training program over the next year with six courses for managers and six for employees.

“It’s not solely diversity training,” said Roz Brewer, Starbucks’ chief operating officer.

Since the incident in Philadelphia, Starbucks has opened its cafes to the public, allowing nonpaying customers to use its cafes and bathrooms. It also provided information about how to address disruptive behaviors without contacting the police and how to contact community resources, such as social services. Police are only to be called to respond to danger, CNBC reported.

“What happened to us shouldn’t happen to anyone,” Robinson, one of the two men arrested in Philadelphia, said in a statement Monday. “While we cannot change the events of April 12th, we are committed to doing what we can to increase opportunities in our community and to prevent other African Americans from being profiled at Starbucks or any other business.”

The NAACP would like its report to be used as a model, Ifill said in a prepared statement:

 “Our report lays the groundwork for Starbucks to review and strengthen its existing policies to prioritize racial equity and the dignity of all customers. We hope companies across industry will use our recommendations as a blueprint for transforming their anti-bias and inclusion practices, and that they will engage people inside and out of their corporations to ensure everyone can enjoy their services free from fear of discrimination.”