The world was outraged when a video surfaced of two African-American men being arrested at Starbucks café in Philadelphia, US on 12 April for seemingly no crime. The two men, Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson had entered the café where they were scheduled to have a business meeting regarding a real estate project they had been working on. They then asked if they could use the toilet but were told it was for paying customers only.

The pair sat down, without purchasing anything and waited patiently for their business partner to arrive. In that time, the manager called the police and within minutes, the police had arrived. Both men were arrested and escorted out of the café but were eventually not charged with a crime.

Another customer at Starbucks uploaded the video that caused the outrage and many threatened to boycott the hugely popular coffee shop.

Helping staffers react to racial or bias situations

Since the incident, Starbucks has tried its best to put the matter to rest. Starbucks CEO, Kevin Johnson published a statement where he apologised for the arrest and as part of the settlement, Starbucks will be giving the two men a chance to finish their undergraduate degree for free through a partnership with Arizona State University.

Today, the chain decided to close more than 8000 US stores for an afternoon to give its employees an anti-bias training, after meeting with activists and experts in the matter. Nearly 175.000 Starbucks workers will attend the training, that is aimed to help them deal with any racial or bias situation that may occur.

According to Starbucks, this will be the first step in the company's effort to address any racial or bias issues in the workplace.

Starbucks enact policy changes

The program will include videos of many top Starbucks executives speaking to the employees about the importance of diversity and how to understand both racial bias and the history of racial discrimination in the US. The workers at each location will also be divided into small groups to learn together. Employees will then talk about their own experiences and work with guides, such as Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz and musician Common.

Starbucks will also enact several policy changes, such as allowing people who have not bought anything, to sit down and to use the toilet. An issue that led to the arrest of both Mr. Robinson and Mr. Nelson, who were said to be trespassing. However, employees will be advised to step in if a customer behaves in a disruptive manner. That includes smoking, use of drugs or alcohol or improper use of the toilet.