Philadelphia Expert Weighs-In On Starbucks Planned Bias Training

"You have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable."

Cherri Gregg
April 19, 2018 - 4:17 pm

Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Starbucks will close 8,000 locations nationwide to conduct implicit bias training. They'll engage experts from the NAACP and Anti-Defamation League, and they are consulting big names — like former Attorney General Eric Holder. 

"We all have some level of bias within us," said Andrea Lawful Sanders, owner of a Lawful Truth LLC. 

An education consultant and diversity coach, she has conducted hundreds, if not thousands, of implicit bias trainings during her multi-decade career. She says Starbucks has a huge job when it comes to devising a training, given the large number of locations and varying issues that each faces. 

Andrea Lawful Sanders
Credit: Cherri Gregg

Sanders says the first step will be to conduct an internal investigation and diversity surveys prior to the training day. 

"They must ask what has been the culture of the company — where have they gone wrong, what have they missed," she said.

The next step is to ensure trainings are in person and that facilitators use scenarios that allow attendees to feel they are in a safe space to voice their biases.

"Because if I don't know what you're thinking — then I'm not able to have the dialogue with you so that you can move in a different direction," Lawful Sanders said.

She notes that change won't happen in a few hours or in a day. It could take years.

"And there are some that — no matter how much you do this training — there are some people that are never going to change," she said. "You have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable."

Lawful Sanders recommends an ongoing training schedule that includes new workers and expanded training for managers.