In an effort to make Starbucks employees feel safer at work, Debbie Stroud and Denise Nelson, senior vice presidents of U.S. operations, said Monday that the chain’s August employee training sessions will include active shooter training, mental health first aid training and lessons on deescalating situations.
“We hear the challenges facing you in stores, and we all have a lot more to still figure out — but we know we’ll get there because YOU have shown us, time and again, that our stores can be a place of hope, optimism and community for all,” the SVPs wrote in an open letter to employees. “As we move forward, we will continue learning together, and share regular updates on this important work.”
Starbucks reported Tuesday it was closing 16 store locations nationwide after seeing a surge in drug use and crime in certain areas, according to the NY Post. Six were in the chain’s hometown of Seattle and six will close in the Los Angeles area. Two stores in Portland, Oregon and one each in Philadelphia and Washington, DC will also close.
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who recently stepped back into the chief leadership role in an interim fashion,issued an announcement last month saying the coffee giant was considering revising its open-to-the-public bathroom policy, citing increasing mental health problems among the public that is posing a threat to employees and customers.
The brand had opened its bathrooms to the public in 2018 following an incident in which a store prevented two Black men from using a bathroom — an act that led to public protests and negative publicity.
“We have to harden our stores and provide safety for our people,” Schultz said. “I don’t know if we can keep our bathrooms open.”
Stroud’s and Nelson’s letter said the company’s policies included:
- Ensuring partners can expect kind treatment from each other and an environment that is free of bullying and disrespect. With that, comes a commitment to accountability when partners/leaders fail to maintain a safe and welcoming third place.
- Designing safe and welcoming stores, and when needed, adjusting store formats, furniture layouts, hours of operation, staffing, or testing store-specific solutions like restroom occupancy sensors, new alarm systems, Lyft at Work, or partnering with local Outreach Workers.
- Modifying operations, closing a restroom, or even closing a store permanently, where safety is no longer possible.
- Creating more stability at work, with Shift Marketplace, tools like Daily Earned to help managers better staff the store and to establish clear standards and expectations around partner availability to ensure more consistency.
- Benefits to support mental health, like Lyra sessions, Headspace and free counselors following a critical store incident and paid sick time.
- Benefits to help create emotional and financial safety, including help with offsetting costs for college, fertility treatments, adoption, access to abortions or gender-affirming procedures, DACA fees; as well as benefits like paid parental leave, CUP fund and catastrophe pay.