Starbucks is taking on the tough topic of bias and racism.
In the wake of the recent Starbuck debacle over arresting two black men that were waiting for a client and have not bought any products, it was good to see the conclusion.
Racism is never acceptable, but it seems more and more we are hearing about police officers shooting black people, numbers about the percentage of black people in the prison system, and about how the US is hindering voting in certain areas of the country. Why is this? I think this stems back to a checkered history too big to get into in this article.
As a business owner or CEO, how do you address errors, issues, and mishaps within your company?
Starbucks might be a good example to follow. Here is the thing… as much as we want our business to only be committed to positivity and doing good for society, people are people and at some point, your company will screw up. It is not important that you will screw up, but rather how you react to this screwup. If you try to sweep it under the rug and ignore it you can have a huge backlash and loss of business.
Starbucks CEO, Kevin Johnson stepped up and took control of the situation with class. You see, Mr. Johnson could have flown out to Philadelphia and reprimanded and fired the staff involved in this incident and then called it a day. Or he could have ignored it all together. Both would have been bad for the company and worse showed he wasn’t really worried about this problem.
Instead, Mr. Johnson flew to Philly to speak to the 2 men that were arrested to hear their story and apologize in person. He spoke to the Philly Mayor, Jim Kenney. He met with City Council members, with the Police Commissioner and several others to truly seek understanding.
Then Mr. Johnson and his team brought in professionals to discuss a solution. The solution is that Starbucks will be closing all stores nationwide for Racial-Bias Education on May 29. Think of the expense involved to do all of this – closing ALL stores for a day, hiring experts to build ciriculum around training employees on racial biases, and flying the CEO and others to Philly to talk to all these people. This is quite a hit, however, in my opinion, it is what set Starbucks up as a leader taking a stand against racism in America. I applaud them for that.
If empathy and inclusion are not taught at home or in schools, where is society going to learn right from wrong?
I think it is great that Starbuck’s CEO stepped up and did so immediately. I am passionate about social change and over the last few years, I have been learning more about the social entrepreneurial movement that is building social consciousness into the business model. Starbucks has nearly a quarter of a million employees and now all current employees and all future employees will be trained on Racial-Biases. This sounds like a great contribution to society.
As a leader and as a CEO it is important for us to take responsibility for our failures, just as much as for our success.
The leader must take the hit and admit when a team member that he doesn’t even know screws up. Taking responsibility for all the actions and screw-ups of the team is what makes a leader that people want to follow. So know that, yes there will be screwups in your business, and it will fall on you as to how the company deals with these issues. If you take the hit, admit that it happened and you were at fault and address things quickly, you will build a stronger company as you work through things. As a matter of fact, handling a crisis with grace is what builds the loyalty of employees and customers.
Feel free to read the article and watch the video of Starbucks Ceo address this issue with grace in the article –
Strbucks sign photo by Karen
Strbucks CEO photo by Sohh.com