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Racial Justice Leaders Publish Comprehensive Report Advising Starbucks on Ideas for Overcoming Racial Bias and Advancing Equity

Independent report provides recommendations around racial equity and inclusion that can be applied across corporate America

Longtime advocates and leaders of prominent racial justice organizations, Sherrilyn Ifill of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) and Heather McGhee of Demos, released an independent, comprehensive anti-bias and organizational transformation report today in response to efforts by Starbucks to address racial bias within its company following the wrongful arrest of Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson at a Philadelphia Starbucks on April 12, 2018.

The independent report, Toward a Vision for Racial Equity & Inclusion at Starbucks: Review and Recommendations, acknowledges the positive steps Starbucks took immediately following the incident and identifies the gaps that still need to be addressed to ensure racial equity over the long term. The company asked both Ifill and McGhee to serve as independent advisors (which they agreed to do on a pro bono basis) for their national training on May 29th. Because addressing racism is a longer-term effort that must not only include, but go beyond staff trainings, the two leaders are independently issuing a report offering a broad range of additional ideas for how the company can apply a racial equity lens in all of its business practices and community engagements. Starbucks has already adopted some of the advisors’ early recommendations and is currently reviewing the full report. Importantly, the report is intended to provide guidance not only to Starbucks, but to all corporations seeking to engage in a broad cultural shift toward racial equity.

“We are committed to eliminating racism at all levels in our country, and that includes challenging corporate leaders to view their business practices and community impacts with a racial equity lens,” said Demos former President and Distinguished Senior Fellow Heather McGhee. “We hope that other corporations follow Starbucks’ lead in accepting that tackling racism is mission-critical, possible, and in all of our interests.”

The report outlines the two leaders’ feedback on the Starbucks May 29 training and recommendations for a full-scale racial equity overhaul of an organization; it includes concerns and ideas raised by community partners, allies and experts, along with feedback to Starbucks from Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson, the two men wrongfully arrested. Recommendations include conducting comprehensive civil rights and consumer profiling audits; increasing the diversity of corporate leadership; ensuring equity and economic security among front-line workers; changes to the Starbucks policy manual; goal-oriented future trainings; deepening community relationships; confronting the company’s impact on gentrification and displacement; and using its leverage to influence in a positive way policing practices in communities across America.

“We’ve been clear from day one that a single training alone could not address racial bias across the entire Starbucks organization, and that substantive change would require new policies and sustained community engagement,” said LDF President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill. “Our report lays the groundwork for Starbucks to review and strengthen its existing policies to prioritize racial equity and the dignity of all customers. We hope companies across industry will use our recommendations as a blueprint for transforming their anti-bias and inclusion practices, and that they will engage people inside and out of their corporations to ensure everyone can enjoy their services free from fear of discrimination.”



Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.

Founded in 2000, Demos is a public policy organization working for an America where we all have an equal say in our democracy and an equal chance in our economy. Demos is working to reduce both political and economic inequality by deploying original research, advocacy, litigation, and strategic communications to create the America the people deserve. Learn more at and @Demos_org.