Starbucks Changes the Narrative With Anti-Bias Training

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Starbucks Corp. (NASDAQ: SBUX) is shutting down its 8,000 stores this afternoon, as previously announced, to conduct mandatory anti-bias training. This training is the result of an incident back in April involving two black men arrested in a Philadelphia Starbucks.

Overall, the coffee chain believes that “insufficient support and training” and “bias” led to an employee unnecessarily calling the police.

Executive Chair Howard Schultz released an open letter to Starbucks customers in regards to the training underway, as well as the incident. He called the situation “reprehensible” and it “does not represent our company’s mission and enduring values.”

Schultz went on to say in the letter:

After investigating what happened, we determined that insufficient support and training, a company policy that defined customers as paying patrons—versus anyone who enters a store—and bias led to the decision to call the police. Our ceo, Kevin Johnson, met with the two men to express our deepest apologies, reconcile and commit to ongoing actions to reaffirm our guiding principles.

The incident has prompted us to reflect more deeply on all forms of bias, the role of our stores in communities and our responsibility to ensure that nothing like this happens again at Starbucks. The reflection has led to a long-term commitment to reform systemwide policies, while elevating inclusion and equity in all we do.

As a result of this, Starbucks has changed its policy to allow people to use its restrooms and spend time in stores, even if they haven’t made any purchases.

Overall, Starbucks has underperformed the broad markets, with its stock down 8% in the past 52 weeks. In just 2018 alone, the stock is up only 1%.

Shares of Starbucks were last seen at $57.81, with a consensus analyst price target of $64.00 and a 52-week trading range of $52.58 to $64.87.