Due to the racial bias incident that happened last month where two African American men were arrested for sitting in a Starbucks store without placing an order in Philadelphia, the company recently announced a new store policy allowing anyone to occupy the coffee shop or use the store’s facilities even if they do not buy anything.
Starbucks later after the incident apologized to the men and said the company will close 8,000 U.S. stores on May 29 for racial bias training. The CEO, Kevin Johnson, promises he would try the best to ensure this kind of incident will never happen again, and he will fix it. Starbucks recently informed US employees that people can gather in the cafes, patios and use the store restroom even if they buy nothing. According to CNN Money, “any person who enters our spaces, including patios, cafes, and restrooms is considered a customer,” said Starbucks in an email to its employees.
“Any customer is welcome to use Starbucks spaces, including our restrooms, cafes and patios, regardless of whether they make a purchase. When using a Starbucks space, we respectfully request that customers behave in a manner that maintains a warm and welcoming environment,” the policy reads.
The revised Starbucks policy, however, says that customers using the space must follow a set of general rules, which requires visitors to use the space as intended, be considerate of others and act responsibly; otherwise, people who do not follow the rules would be asked to leave. The revised policy also directs employees to procedure for dealing with customers that behave in a “disruptive manner,” including guidance on how to approach disruptive customers. Employees who witness immediate danger or threat to partners and customers’ safety are still instructed to call 911.
Earlier this month, Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz, speaking at the Atlantic Council in Washington, teased the policy change. Howard Schultz of CNN explained the company used to have a “loose” policy of only allowing paying customers to use the bathroom, with the decision ultimately left to the store manager, but that stores would change that rule. “We don’t want to become a public bathroom, but we are going to make the right decision 100 percent of the time and give people the key because we do not want anyone at Starbucks to feel as if we are not giving access to people to the bathroom because they are less than. We want them to be more than,” said Schultz, but the old policy, and the decision made by the Philadelphia store manager last month, were “absolutely wrong in every way,” Schultz added.
On May 29, many Starbucks store teams are reconnecting with their mission and with each other. “We’ll see you tomorrow,” many stores have the sign posted for the closure of the racial bias training to make a third place between home and work where everyone is welcome. A place where everyone feels that they belong.
Customers who are interested in providing any suggestions or concerns to make Starbucks a more welcoming place are able to do a customer service survey on https://customerservice.starbucks.com/app/contact/ask_company_info/session/.