Starbucks: Battling the Racism Allegations
(5 pages of text)
Case (Pub Mat)
On April 12, 2018, the manager of a Philadelphia Starbucks Corporation (Starbucks) store called the police and two customers were arrested. The two men, who were black, were sitting at a table in the store without having placed an order. The incident sparked an online wave of protest over racial bias at Starbucks, a company that had long touted its social agenda of racial equity and diversity. The chief executive officer of Starbucks, quickly acknowledged the incident with a general public apology and a more specific follow-up statement later the same day. Amid outrage over the Philadelphia arrests and backlash online, the company also announced a half-day mass anti-racism training program for its employees. Experts were skeptical about the success of the training, claiming that a half-day training session could not eliminate racial bias. Was the company doing enough to train its front-line employees in providing not only the best service but also equal service to its customers? Did Starbucks truly represent the values it promoted? Would a half-day anti-racism training session effectively address the issue of racial bias, especially for front-line workers?
This case is suitable for both undergraduate- and graduate-level courses on training and development, diversity and inclusion, sales management, and brand management. The case is also suitable for executive-level modules and management development programs. After working through the case and assignment questions, students will be able to
- discuss how the behaviour of front-line employees can align with the organization’s commitment for diversity and inclusion;
- examine the challenges of diversity training and how to make it work;
- assess the critical aspects of front-line workers managing diverse customers and their role in reinforcing the core idea and message of the brand; and
- discuss how to effectively manage a brand that is built on a strategy of diversity and inclusion values.
Accommodation & Food Services
America, Large, 2018
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