On the heels of the firestorm of controversy surrounding Starbucks, the company’s CEO Kevin Johnson announced its decision to close 8,000 stores on May 29 for a racial-bias education program. Nearly 175,000 Starbucks employees will participate in the unconscious-bias training session.
Combating racial-bias in the workplace has been a life mission of Mechanical Engineer and keynote speaker Yassmin Abdel-Magied. Yassmin’s vast career, which was built on the notion of breaking gender and racial stereotypes, makes her an expert in disassembling social constructs and creating an even playing field in the workplace. She shares her thoughts on Starbucks’ upcoming unconscious-bias training session below:
“At first glance, it’s laudable that Starbucks is taking steps to train their employees on racial biases. However, Starbucks needs to understand this must only be the first step in a long process for cultural change within the organization. Recognizing one’s biases through a training course is the start – then comes analysis, and mitigation. It is also important for Starbucks to realize that both individual and structural change within the organization is needed.
Starbucks also only has two women on the board, and one person of color. If the top level isn’t representative, how can the public believe that Starbucks is taking these challenges seriously and is committed to tackling racial bias within the organization? Whether this training program is successful or not depends on what happens when the media spotlight moves away from this organization, and the real work of cultural change begins.”
For more information on unconscious-bias and racial diversity in the workplace, watch our Podcast interview with Yassmin Abdel-Magied below.