Virtue Signaling: Starbucks Closes Stores for Anti-bias Training

Beautiful woman holding Starbucks coffee cup, in disbelief of virtue signaling

Starbucks Closes Stores for Anti-Bias Training

Starbucks closed many of its stores on the afternoon of May 26, 2018, to give its 175,000 employees anti-bias training. The move follows the arrest of two black men at a Starbucks in April after they asked to use the restroom without having made a purchase. Starbucks changed its bathroom policy following the incident. The four-hour session will feature videos from company chairman Howard Schultz, CEO Kevin Johnson, and rapper musician and activist, Common.

Starbucks is expected to have losses upwards of $12 million when it temporarily shuts down a few of its U.S. stores for the afternoon. Of course, $12 million is a drop in the pond compared to it’s $22 billion in annual sales.

Bias Training is Common in Most Places of Employment

The announcement that they are doing this will be more valuable than the actual training that they will receive. Many offer similar training at most any other job you apply to. "Don't be racist or commit sexual harassment. It's never ok no matter how much you want to do it. You do it, and you are fired". Along with this, they will be given a 100-page document specifically saying that you should know this and that again you should not do it.

There is no secret super "don't be racist" training, and the announcement that they are doing this is of importance since the one thing a "progressive" business like Starbucks cannot afford is to look racist.

Testing the Waters

I decided to conduct a little experiment, as I have roughly 100 Starbucks cafes within a one-mile vicinity of my home (this is partially a joke, there are approximately eight within a mile). Living in Atlanta GA, it is safe to say that in the Metro Atlanta area, as a white male, I am the minority. On Sunday, I went to four different Starbucks locations and stayed for about half an hour before either ordering then going to the restroom or going to the restroom. I sat and did nothing else by play on my phone. More than half of the stores informed me that I needed to purchase something if I wanted to stay.

Forced unconscious bias training is proven to be entirely ineffective and, in some cases, has an overall adverse effect. People do not like being told they are unconsciously racist. This is what happens when you live in a country where the demand for racism far outpaces the actual supply of racism.

Is Starbucks Virtue Signaling

Starbucks is the opposite of most companies. Rather than downplaying controversy and trying to let it blow over, they are taking this to the extreme. Starbucks is very savvy at opportunistic virtue signaling. They know it appeals to their customer base.

I do not write this lightly, but I fear this may be the new normal with big corporate Public Relations departments. They fall all over themselves appearing to respond to whatever the public outrage happens to be that week in the news cycle.

As a gun owner, I was astounded at how many companies felt the need to take a public stance on gun control after Parkland, including companies whose businesses had little or nothing to do with the subject. FedEx announced support for an assault weapon and high capacity magazine ban. Why? The answer is simple; it is because a couple of hundred people on Twitter were targeting various companies with a pressure campaign to weigh in on the issue.

Social Media is Influencing Big Companies

The fact of the matter is, big companies, and society in general, have not been able to adjust to this new age of instant connection, information, and social media. If a handful of people on Twitter raise enough hell, some companies will scramble to make sure that they can do whatever it takes to make sure they do not step on too many toes. The vocal minority has too much pull.

Companies do not seem to take into consideration the demographic that buy their product versus who are raising hell on social media. They are more worried about their appearance to the vocal few. Although consumers do not always voice their opinion on social media, they will voice it where it hurts the most for companies- in sales. Big companies like Starbucks should consider instead of virtue signaling for PR.

Landon Jordon / Writer

I am a father, moderate Libertarian and ordained Christian minister. My life has been a whirl of excitement but I’m proud of the fact that I've never been to a Kid Rock concert.
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  1. Interesting experiment. I did the same here at a local Starbucks and no one said a word. Same with Arby's. Depends where you live, I guess.




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