Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Starbucks Corporation: Fighting Racial Bias

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Saurabh BhattacharyaORCiD


Full text for this publication is not currently held within this repository. Alternative links are provided below where available.


In April 2018, two black customers were arrested at a Starbucks Corporation (Starbucks) outlet in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, after one of the two men asked to use the restroom while the pair were waiting to meet someone. After a video of the arrest went viral on social media, Kevin Johnson, the chief executive officer of Starbucks, immediately apologized to the men and, further, announced that the company would hold racial bias training across all Starbucks stores in the United States. Johnson was criticized for the presumption that a half-day training session could possibly resolve racial bias issues. Employees also expressed their dissatisfaction with the training program. Johnson also announced an open-toilets policy, which was also criticized, raising several questions: Had Johnson managed the crisis appropriately? How could he make such training effective? Should Johnson change his open-toilets policy? Should he reconsider his decision to conduct such training at the cost of future revenues? Learning Objective: This case is intended for both undergraduate- and graduate-level courses on business ethics and corporate governance. After working through the case and assignment questions, students will be able to do the following:Explain how to respond to a racial bias crisis situation. Analyze the effectiveness of racial bias training.Describe different types of implicit bias that may occur in addition to racial bias.Critically analyze whether customer-pleasing policies such as open-toilets policies are good for an organization's reputation. Describe different routes or strategies organizations can use to enhance diversity.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Agnihori A, Bhattacharya S

Publication type: Online Publication

Publication status: Published

Series Title: Ivey Publishing

Year: 2020

Description: Business Case Study

Acceptance date: 13/01/2020

Publisher: Ivey Publishing

Place Published: London, OT, Canada