What We Can Learn From Starbucks’ #RaceTogether

by Tiffany Kuehl

During an impromptu meeting at Starbucks’ headquarters in Seattle, the conversation centered on racial tension in America, prompting the company to introduce the #RaceTogether initiative.

The initiative was not founded as an attempt to solve the issue of race relations in the U.S., but rather to encourage open and honest discussions about race.

I have to give kudos to Starbucks for encouraging us to have discussions about race. This topic is inherently personal for many of us and it can be difficult to know where to start or how to discuss it without offending others. Starbucks’ initiative essentially gave us permission to talk about it.

That being said, the best intentions can’t make up for the poor implementation of #RaceTogether. It’s hard to make a positive impact by throwing baristas who struggle to even spell my name right on a cup into deep conversations about race as they prepare my Grande Mocha.

While the initiative has since ended and baristas have gone back to trying to spell “Tiffany” correctly, I hope we can continue to have conversations that matter, even if they don’t take place in the coffee shop.

To read more about my opinions on #RaceTogether and to hear the viewpoints of some other great HR professionals, read the rest of the blog on Performance I Create’s website.

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Photo Credit: “Starbucks” by “pure9” Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0). Accessed 24 April 2015. https://www.flickr.com/photos/pure9/2665056082

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