A video of the Starbucks incident posted on social media has been viewed an estimated 10 million times.
The CEO of Starbucks is pledging to institute training for his employees after a video of two African-American men being arrested Thursday for sitting in a Philadelphia store sparked demonstrations and calls for a company boycott.
Kevin Johnson said in a Good Morning America interview on Monday that the training would address “unconscious bias.” He also discussed instituting training for store managers on guidelines for handling situations in the coffee shops that warrant calling the police.
“Clearly, there’s an opportunity for us to provide clarity,” he said.
He explained that the company was reviewing the actions of the Philadelphia store manager and the guidelines followed.
“Starbucks was built as a company that creates a warm, welcoming environment for all customers. That didn’t happen in this case,” Johnson said. “I’ve been very focused on understanding what guidelines and what training ever let this happen. What happened was wrong and we will fix it.”
The same morning he was being interviewed on live TV about racial profiling, protesters were chanting slogans like, “A whole lot of racism, a whole lot of crap, Starbucks coffee is anti-black,” at the Starbucks in the Center City section of downtown Philly where the incident occurred. Demonstrators also were outside the coffee shop on Sunday.
Starbucks could not immediately be reached for comment to delineate what policies are currently in place or outline what exactly the promised training would entail.
Last week, employees called 911 after the two men — denied access to the store bathroom, because it was only for paying customers — sat down to wait for a man they were scheduled to meet with. The workers told police the pair was trespassing. A video of the incident posted on social media has been viewed an estimated 10 million times.
Johnson has repeatedly apologized for the incident.
The names of the two men have not been released.
This is Johnson’s first real test on the job. April marks the one-year anniversary of his becoming CEO. He replaced Howard Schultz, who is credited with transforming the Seattle-based business into a worldwide brand and now serves as executive chairman. Johnson, who first joined Starbucks in 2009, was previously its chief operating officer.
Starbucks stock appears to be unaffected by the PR nightmare. It was $59.40, up 16 cents or 28% in late-morning trading.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.