Included on the agenda for Starbucks employees today will be “unconscious bias training” which will attempt to identify negative stereotypes toward “people of color.” The training is being supervised by representatives of the NAACP and will also include comments from Starbucks executives and rapper/activist “Common.” Employees will also be given a history of the civil rights movement and have to watch a documentary film. It certainly sounds like an exercise in liberal indoctrination.
This “training” is seemingly mandatory and Starbucks employees will be forced to participate. Instead of this extreme measure, a better course of action would have been a corporate directive to all stores for every employee to treat each customer with respect and to show no bias or favoritism toward any racial group. Of course, in the aftermath of the highly-publicized Philadelphia incident, Starbucks wanted to take a more drastic approach to solve the public relations nightmare.
In reality, this training exercise may eventually cause more problems for Starbucks. Closing for several hours will cost the company over $10 million in lost sales. Customers that leave may never come back to Starbucks. Even employees subjected to the training may resent the indoctrination and decide to find other employment.
Of course, the Philadelphia patrons should not have been arrested, but any retail outlet needs to give preference to paying customers. Incredibly, in the aftermath of the arrests, Starbucks issued a new policy. Henceforth, each location will now allow non-paying customers to use their restrooms and stay in their stores indefinitely. This new policy will give incentives for non-paying customers to loiter and use precious seating. Even homeless people will now be able to use Starbucks locations for shelter from the weather, to gather with others and possibly panhandle for money. Simultaneously, these changes will create headaches for paying customers looking for a place to sit, do some work or meet a friend.
The real beneficiaries of this Starbucks controversy and the resulting policy changes and training will not be African American or minority customers, but the many competitors of the coffee chain.
Jeff Crouere is a native New Orleanian and his award winning program, “Ringside Politics,” airs locally at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and at 10:00 p.m. Sundays on PBS affiliate WLAE-TV, Channel 32, and from 7-11 a.m. weekdays on WGSO 990-AM & www.Wgso.com. He is a political columnist, the author of America's Last Chance and provides regular commentaries on the Jeff Crouere YouTube channel and on www.JeffCrouere.com. For more information, email him at [email protected]