The other day, Starbucks closed their Canadian so that their employees could undergo “sensitivity training”. It was prompted by an incident where two black men were arrested in one of their stores. They’ve also recently released the videos which they used to train their employees and encourage their employees to be “colour brave.”
They viewed this training to be “necessary because it facilitated a conversation that many of us needed to have.”
The phrase “colour brave” did not sit well with some employees.
“It’s not about being colour brave. It’s about acknowledging other people as human beings and not being prejudiced based on their race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc.,” one said, “It sends the wrong message, there is no such thing as being colour brave, its about treating people with decency and respect.”
Teach Respect, Not Slogans
If not “color brave” then what should the message or slogan have been?
“Like your mom always taught you, treat others the way you would want to be treated. It’s not about being colour brave, it’s about being respectful to others.”
Although we hope Starbucks executives had the right intentions behind enacting this type of training, it was executed in a way such that it came off as “disingenuous and inauthentic”. Starbucks as a whole prides themselves on creating a sense of community and being a store for the people. And with training that was so controversial, they should have been more authentic and it shouldn’t have been scripted the way it was.
Time will tell if these four hours of “sensitivity training” do anything to aid in issues of racism present in our society. But it did create dialogue that is quite essential to have in our present society.
Whether it was merely done by Starbucks to boost their profile and save itself from missteps taken in previous incidents, or if it was genuine and done to improve their sense of community amongst their stores–it did begin a needed conversation amongst many employees.
After a nice talk with one of their employees, it seems that this training has had some benefits but was not implemented in the best way and came off disingenuous and didn’t teach anything new. But it simply reiterated lessons and values we should’ve been taught during our upbringing, which some people may have lacked, and reinforced the aspect of respect but instead they switched the word respect with their new, strange term of “colour brave.”
Instead of creating new slogans such as colour brave, we should be focusing on the underlying issue of respect. And it is up to society and us citizens to be the change we want to see.