Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is proving that he isn’t afraid to talk about one of America’s toughest subjects — race.
Holding a series of open forums with employees about the subject, Schultz recently traveled to the California African American Museum in Los Angeles for his latest discussion. He invited hundreds of Starbucks baristas, managers and other workers to discuss how race and ethnicity have affected their lives and the treatment they give customers.
“Whether we want to admit it or not, we all have unconscious biases,” USA Today reports Schultz saying.
During the discussion, Schultz talked about the effect the civil rights movement had on him growing up in the 1960s and showed an extended video clip of Robert F. Kennedy talking about race after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Schultz started the discussion series in December following the events in Ferguson, Mo. that highlighted racial strife throughout the nation. He held an impromptu open forum in Starbucks hometown of Seattle to discuss the role race has played on the well-being of his employees. After the event, the CEO released a video and open letter outlining the economic and political effects of racism in our country and announced that he and his leadership team would be traveling throughout the nation to host similar open forums. The event in Los Angeles is the fourth event of its kind, as Schultz and his team have hosted similar events this year in Oakland and New York.
“In every city we’ve had these meetings, there has been a tremendous amount of learning,” said Schultz. “There’s been a true level of compassion about what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes.”