It’s May 29th and Starbucks have closed all their North American Stores for the afternoon for training’ on racial and other unconscious bias issues.
8000 stores. 175,000 employees. An estimated cost of $4.4 Million.
It’s a big event by far but if Starbucks is to be believed (and I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt here) it’s only the start of their process.
And that’s why I’m writing about it on what has become a very quiet blog. There was a great article in The Atlantic I saw this morning that laid out how the message has changed. Originally it was that the training was happening today. Now it’s that the training is STARTING today.
Unconscious or Implicit bias is the sort of ingrained, deep down habits that are happening to people at the most basic human levels. It’s the results of years or decades of inputs to our brains from thousands of sources. There is no way that this changes in a single training session.
But it’s also something that can change. When a well thought out program is designed and put into place then we do see changes in behavior on this and other topics. “Another version, which focused on gender bias, was presented to STEM faculty at the University of Wisconsin. in departments that had received the training, the proportion of women faculty hired over the next two years increased from 32 to 47 percent. Departments that hadn’t received the training showed no change at all.”
Training alone is not going to change behavior, especially on something as deep as bias. But if any organization is serious about changing the behavior of it’s people and by so doing changing it’s culture then a well thought out program, designed and put into place is a vital part of that.