Investing in Equity: Starbucks’s Challenges and Responses to Advancing Racial Equity

Author: Nicole A. Ploeger-Lyons & Jennifer A. Butler
Publisher: International Journal of Instructional Cases


IJIC, Volume 6 (2022)


In April 2018, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, 23-year-old black male entrepreneurs, had a meeting at a Philadelphia Starbucks store. Shortly after being denied access to the bathroom because they had not purchased anything, they were arrested. Their arrests sparked public outrage. In response, Starbucks closed its 8,000 stores one afternoon so that approximately 175,000 employees could undergo racial bias training. Starbucks has since made many additional efforts to advance racial equity.


Diversity, equity, and inclusion in organizations; racial bias; diversity training; organizational crisis response

Target Audience and Usage

The suggested audience includes students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs with a focus on training; diversity, equity, and inclusion; organizational crisis communication; or management. Business professionals—especially those who undergo or facilitate diversity training—will also benefit from analyzing this case.

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