Never before in the history of corporate America has a company so welcomed accusations of racism as Starbucks. But that could have been expected given the worldview of Executive Chairman Howard Schultz.
Several weeks ago, Schultz announced that on May 29 he would close around 8,000 of the company’s outlets to train employees on how to recognize and avoid unconscious social bias. This was in response to the publicized arrest on April 18 of two black males at a Starbucks coffee shop in Philadelphia. Whatever his ulterior motives, he and other company executives should avoid this route. The training is guaranteed to be expensive. And it will backfire.
Corporate executives today know that to keep their jobs and avoid boycotts they must persuade employees to shed supposedly unconscious race and gender biases lurking within their souls. And though the remedy, known universally as “diversity,” promotes teamwork, in practice it constitutes soft totalitarianism, resting on the guiding assumption that to be white and/or male is to be guilty until proven innocent. Even the appearance of unfairness to nonwhite and female employees, customers and shareholders must be averted.