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Archive for April, 2018

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Starbucks’ and America’s Neo-diversity Anxiety

#Starbucks

How many times have I sat in a Starbucks waiting for a friend before I ordered anything. I guess I was lucky no one called the police since I am a big, giant, dark-skinned, black man.

Most Americans have now seen the outrage inducing video of the police taking away two black men who had been sitting quietly in a Philadelphia Starbucks waiting for a friend. The why is that a Starbucks employee called the police because those two black men were sitting in the store and had not ordered anything.

Kevin Johnson, the CEO of Starbucks published a letter of apology. In it he says a number of things, but this line of thinking stuck out to me:

“We have immediately begun a thorough investigation of our practices…  Regretfully, our practices and training led to a bad outcome—the basis for the call to the Philadelphia police department was wrong.  Our store manager never intended for these men to be arrested and this should never have escalated as it did… We also will further train our partners to better know when police assistance is warranted.”

Mr. Johnson, the CEO, has also now said that employees will be put through unconscious bias training.

That whole line of thinking misses the problem.

The problem today is not unconscious bias. The manager who called the police was very aware of what they were doing and why; they felt anxious and uncertain with the presence of two big, black men.

If Starbucks is going to put people through training, it should be training people to acknowledge and manage their neo-diversity anxiety. That is an anxiety about who belongs in what spaces; that is the anxiety of “who are among the ‘we’ and who are among the ‘they.’

To be effective, the training must start at the top of the organization.

For any organization to work through today’s neo-diversity issues, the organizational leadership must have a deep understanding of the root of that neo-diversity anxiety.  And the most important step in that direction is not training workers but training the top-level executives.

First line of change is getting the Executive board to understand that neo-diversity anxiety is rampant in their ranks and in our country. That is the only way the Executives and the organization will learn to operate in our multicultural 21st century with respect.

I coined the concept of neo-diversity. Like I do at colleges and universities, I can do the kind of neo-diversity training the Starbucks executive board needs.

Tell somebody: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22822943-taking-on-diversity


posted by Rupert  |   12:55 PM  |   0 comments