Starbucks COO: Philadelphia arrest video ‘alarming,’ but not hurting hiring efforts

  • More than 5,000 applicants showed up to a hiring fair on Thursday where 20 companies were recruiting, including Starbucks, COO Rosalind Brewer said.
  • "If this is any indication, we don't think there's any problems," she says.
  • While the Philadelphia arrest footage was "alarming," Starbucks has the ability to start a national conversation, she says.

The arrest of two black men in a Philadelphia Starbucks doesn't appear to be having an effect on the coffee chain's ability to hire workers, its COO told CNBC on Thursday.

More than 5,000 applicants showed up to a hiring fair on Thursday where 20 companies were recruiting, including Starbucks, Rosalind Brewer said.

"If this is any indication, we don't think there's any problems," she told CNBC's Kate Rogers in an interview on "Power Lunch."

The video of the arrest went viral last month, touching off a furor around the U.S. over racial profiling.

Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were led away in handcuffs after the manager called the police, saying the men refused to buy anything or leave. After spending hours in jail, they were released and no charges were filed.

The men said they were waiting for a business meeting about a potential real estate deal.

On Wednesday, Nelson and Robinson settled with the city for a symbolic $1 each. They also received a promise from officials to set up a $200,000 program for young entrepreneurs.

"The footage was alarming. No one ever wants to see that. And me in particular, I have a 23-year-old son. So it was deeply personal," said Brewer, who is the first female and first African-American to serve as chief operating officer of Starbucks.

CEO Kevin Johnson has apologized for the incident and after the settlement was reached thanked the two men for "their willingness to reconcile."

"I welcome the opportunity to begin a relationship with them to share learnings and experiences. And Starbucks will continue to take actions that stem from this incident to repair and reaffirm our values and vision for the kind of company we want to be," Johnson said in a statement Wednesday.

Last week, he told CNBC the arrests and the calls for boycotts did not affect Starbucks' April sales.

Brewer said the company is "pleased" about where it is now and where it plans to go.

"This wasn't one of our best moments but one thing that I can tell you personally is that I'm so proud that this company already had such a great foundation," she said. "We have the ability to start a national conversion."

And the work won't stop just at Starbucks, Brewer noted.

"We want to partner with other companies, we want to improve things in the city of Philadelphia. And we're very optimistic about that."

The company plans to close Starbucks stores on May 29 for racial-bias training.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Correction: Over 5,000 applicants showed up to a hiring fair where 20 companies were recruiting, including Starbucks. An earlier version mischaracterized the number of applicants.