The title says it all, I guess. I work at Starbucks and went through the sensitivity training today. Saw a request here for an AMA, so I thought I'd try to fulfill that.


Comments: 3012 • Responses: 25  • Date: 

Southernms2089 karma

What was the vibe of the room? Was it awkward?

Active_Account3083 karma

The room seemed pretty comfortable. It was just our coworkers, managers, and some iPads, so we made ourselves at home. The manager also brought a ton of snacks and Dominos so we were in good condition.

sour_creme1233 karma

snacks and stumptown coffee

Active_Account536 karma

Ha! I wish

bitterbrew1060 karma

How useful do you think this training will be 12 months from now with normal turnover? How do you think this compares to the last time they closed all stores for training?

Active_Account1200 karma

Starbucks is developing 12 MyTraining modules (mandatory, online training pamphlets/exercises for all employees) for this training program, which will then be added to the curriculum for incoming employees. I've yet to see those and I'm unsure how effective they'll be, but they definitely seem to be accounting for turnover. And I'm unfamiliar with the other training shutdown, sorry

Tuatha-an447 karma

mandatory, online training pamphlets/exercises for all employees

Do you do these on company time/get paid to complete these?

Active_Account771 karma

Yes we do

dtbjohnson987 karma

This might not be for you but for the company doing the training but if 8000 stores were closed and these seminars were held in house (in your store) - did they have 8000 trainers available? Or did your manager do the training?

Active_Account1458 karma

Our manager did the training, guided by an iPad program

catword891 karma

What do you think about Starbucks new open door policy and that anyone can just come in and sit or use the restroom as they please? It sounds like more trouble imo.

Edit: the open door policy is apparently not new. The training is to set guidelines, etc. for employees to follow.

Active_Account823 karma

Ultimately, I don't think customers should worry about this new policy. Starbucks employees will still reserve the right to remove people who are disruptive or behaving inappropriately, and if it turns out that the policy is yielding low-satisfaction rates among paying customers, then the company will probably amend it.

That being said, if a significant change does happen, it would be to our nighttime shifts which already attract a larger number of homeless people than the daytime shifts. And of course, the new policy could very well make our stores just all the more attractive to people who otherwise don't have the greatest source of shelter at night. It makes sense. I have some coworkers who worry about this, but I'm rather optimistic that the change will be negligible. I'm not opposed to changing my tune if I'm proven wrong, however.

AskMeAboutMyStalker60 karma

I've walked into Starbucks, pissed in the restroom & walked back out several times with no problem.

Never questioned, never got police involved

I'm ok with non white people having the same priviy

Active_Account55 karma

Yeah that's another factor here. Most of us just don't care. It just seems cruel to tell someone to hold it in while they find somewhere else to go.

98cwitr735 karma

What did you learn?

Active_Account1546 karma

A lot of the training was focused on awareness. Awareness of our own biases and how to notice them; awareness of our differences and how to embrace them. The latter was practiced during the training by pairing up and asking questions about each other, which I think led to some really great conversations. The former was achieved by explaining some concepts you'd learn in a social-psych 101 class. Stuff like implicit associations [unconsciously connecting a stimulus (like a person's skin color) with a concept (like a stereotype based on that skin color)], and racial anxiety (when a person of one race is self-conscious about how they'll be perceived by a person of another race).

Miapop2000427 karma

How many more of these sessions will happen? Or is this the only one? Also was it just watching a video, and a few questions and answers type of thing?

Active_Account634 karma

I think this was the only formal meeting we'll have, but the company will be adding related modules to our MyLearning page (an online training course where all employees learn the basics and such before actually going on the job).

There were a lot of videos involved, yes, but they weren't exactly training videos where they tell you what to do or what to say. They were more like what you'd expect from a Vox video, where they provide information along with a message of some sort. We also received notebooks that contained prompts to answer, but they were more like open-ended, thought-provoking questions, rather than multiple-choice or short-answer questions with a right or wrong answer. For example, there's a page with the title "The first time you..." and then a series of statements to finish that prompt, like "...noticed your racial identity," "had a friend of a different race who regularly visited your home," etc.

We also had group activities where we would discuss our answers to these prompts with each other.

ImSqueakaFied15 karma

There will be 12 more of some sort over the next year. Exact topics and methods TBD.

Active_Account64 karma

Correct. But those 12 will be modules on MyLearning, not actual meetings.

TwoSmallWords152 karma

So, how was it?

Active_Account292 karma

I think the company did a good job with the program, and my manager did a good job setting everything up. It went really well and my coworkers seem to agree.

wanmoar74 karma

did you take that test where you associate words on a colour to find out bias?

Active_Account73 karma

Yes and no. See here

Evryusrnametkn84 karma

It’s great that corporate Starbucks thinks this is a good idea however, if you are in a location with a lot of homelessness ie., any major city in America, this will present safety issues for the workers and customers. What is the general consensus of the employees at Starbucks?

Active_Account183 karma

My coworkers are somewhat divided. Most of us, especially the closing crew, already deal with a lot of homeless people every day. I don't think any of us are worried for our safety, as the homeless people who come to my store are typically harmless. The issue that some of us are worried about is the mess that some homeless people will leave in the bathrooms. We get an older lady who will try to wash her clothes in the bathroom sink, and another person who aims for the wall. We make it a point to clean up after these people, of course, but the mess they sometimes leave is incredibly unsanitary, and in some cases is such a hazard, that policy is to shut down the bathroom and call a professional sanitation team. The vast majority of homeless do not behave this way in our bathrooms, which is why we're kind of divided. There's the band that believes our new policy will just invite more people who try to do this. And then there's the band that suspects little-to-no change to our current problems.

I'm in the latter camp, but I'll concede that while I don't think they'll worsen, I certainly think this limits our ability to improve our bathroom conditions.

mheylen61 karma

What is one thing you think they could’ve handled better at the meeting? Thank you for everything you do and thank you for this ama

Active_Account158 karma

To be honest, I entered with low expectations and left thinking they did a really good job. I'm not totally sure how much credit should just go to the company itself, or how much should go to my manager, who I think handled the meeting incredibly well. If I had to nitpick, I'd say I wished they had explored implicit associations a little further. If you've ever looked into implicit associations online, you'll probably have found something like this, which is a test you take to see if it's more difficult for you to quickly associate "good" and "bad" adjectives with white faces or with black faces. This kind of test can make some people uncomfortable, which I imagine is one reason Starbucks omitted it from the program, but I would have like to see it. What we got instead was something like this, which is similar in concept but I think has a weaker effect.

BurgerPleaseYT39 karma

What's your favorite burger joint?

Active_Account114 karma

I live dangerously close to an In-n-Out, which is also my answer. If I've got the money for it though, I get my favorite burger at Father's Office in Culver City.

bright_yellow_vest17 karma

What is your position there? These AMA answers seem pre-written and more of a PR play than an honest AMA from a run of the mill barista.

Active_Account68 karma

I'm prone to pedantry and I fret a lot over my wording. Sorry? I'm just a barista.

yeahboo11 karma

Not really related to your training but I was in Boracay once, and a Filipina barista spoke fluent mandarin while taking the orders from a Chinese couple. I was very surprised.

Do you get 'extra' pay if you speak a language other than the one spoken locally?

Active_Account29 karma

I've been tipped for speaking a foreign language to a foreign customer, but no you don't get a higher wage for it.

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Gerlyfee20 karma

I agree. How do we know this isn't a Starbucks PR rep?

Active_Account34 karma

Lol at the thought of me being a PR rep for Starbucks. It's definitely a good point, but I think we over-roast our espresso beans and I'm not using a throwaway account. I'm sure you'll find in my post history somewhere that I'm still in college.

AlphaPrime909 karma

Can you have free drinks ?

Active_Account23 karma

Yeah, one within 30 minutes before your shift, one within 30 minutes after your shift, one during your lunch, and one during your 10-minute break.

Stranger19827 karma

Hi there! Do you think this training was useful in any way at all?

Active_Account19 karma


I do. I think it provided some foundation for being more open-minded about individual differences, which I see as a plus. It taught a lot of us the kind of conversations we should have, if we wanna appreciate different identities, for example. It was also basically a primer for social pscyh 101, tuned for use in a business setting. Overall I think it was worth the time.

brandonnnk5 karma

did you guys get any commemorative gifts / proof to show that you have went through the racial sensitivity training?

Active_Account26 karma

No, nothing special. We got to clock in so it was 4 hours of pay, but that's it.

bitterbrew4 karma

Green tea latte with soy? Do you get foam on that like normal or are you a no foam monster?

Active_Account11 karma

Lol we were out of whole milk and I'd take soy over watered-down milk any day. Foam always!

RB30DETT2 karma

Did you do something that required the training? If so what?

Active_Account20 karma

Me in particular? No. This was a mandatory meeting for most Starbucks locations in the US. If you mean my store, I think stores were chosen if they were in more diverse, urban settings.

boymangodbeer1 karma

Are you acting on your own or are you someone from their corporate team?

Active_Account1 karma

Own accord. I explained the meeting to a friend and he suggested I do an AMA for fun.

mtmsla-7 karma

Why not during Obama? When #ourlivesmatter was the hot topic? Why now?

Active_Account8 karma

Not sure to what extent you're joking, so I'll just try to answer honestly for anyone who stumbles upon this. There was an incident in Philadelphia where a couple black men were arrested for sitting in a Starbucks. They hadn't purchased anything, so the manager was technically following policy (albeit in an extreme way), but the two men were harmless and just waiting for a friend. On top of that, this isn't the kind of policy that employees ever really care to enforce, so the whole move by the manager was incredibly suspect and believed to have racist underpinnings. As a measure of avoiding any such incident in the future, Starbucks decided to simply do away with the policy that one must pay to sit in the store. The incident was a huge image issue for Starbucks, who in order to maintain a decent image, decided to call for this training session which I underwent today. The Philadelphia incident occurred in April of this year, a little over a year after Obama left office which, to answer your question, is why this wasn't scheduled during Obama.