There is a new report of another racist incident at a Starbucks, making the third in a month. An Hispanic customer in La Cañada, California paid for two cups of coffee. Each was printed with a derogatory term instead of his name, according to a KCAL-TV report Wednesday night.
Starbucks released a statement to the station: " This is not indicative of the type of experience we want our customers to have when they walk into our stores. We have apologized to the customer directly and are working to make things right."
The company can continue its plan for a day of training in all the company-owned stores in the U.S. Management can even make the smart move of opening its bathrooms to all consumers, whether those people first make a purchase or not.
Neither will fix the problem of racism, which is societal in nature and far larger than the company. Nor will what has quickly become the norm of a meeting with and official apology from company officials. Even some intelligent advice from my Inc.com colleague Suzanne Lucas isn't close to enough.
Starbucks has to publicly fire any employee who takes part in such hurtful activity.
About a week ago, I was discussing the Starbucks issue with someone who had responded to my post about Starbucks opening its bathrooms to everyone.
The solution is simply... FIRE RACIST and the message is sent clear across the chain that racist will not be tolerated.-- Like a Fox (@TheChatt10Man) May 11, 2018
I disagreed in one aspect. Racism is often a subconscious activity and many who are racist, or bigoted in some other way, don't recognize their own biases and tendencies.
You can't scare people out of behavior that they're sure they don't exhibit.
At the same time, there are clearly too many who will act out of malice. If there aren't consequences beyond a wrist slap, they will take note and behave the way they would rather.
In other words, ultimately the reader was right. A company must fire people for such offenses. Not that it will scare everyone out of egregious behavior if subconscious. But the lack of action will only encourage those who want to demean, hurt, and even endanger others.
Starbucks did fire the manager in Philadelphia who called the police on the two black customers. I have a question in with the company to see if anyone in the other two incidents have lost their jobs. I'll add an update if I hear back.
After this last month -- and the many times events like this have likely happened over the years without anyone bringing them to light -- it's clear that singing Kumbaya around an espresso machine won't be nearly enough. Have the training but recognize that zero tolerance is also necessary. And make sure that, if people are fired, the actions are publicly and loudly noted. Racism should put the perpetrators in at least as much jeopardy as the victims.