Tuesday afternoon, Starbucks closed 8,000 of its stores for an afternoon of racial sensitivity training. The coffee chain's mass closure comes one month after two black men were arrested at a Philadelphia location while waiting to meet a friend, prompting national outcry.
Though the company's sensitivity training is a promising first step in addressing racial bias in the workplace, diversity experts note that it should be implemented well before a national scandal, rather than as a response to public backlash. In order to be effective, sensitivity training must be part of a holistic top-down company culture that promotes diversity and inclusion.
"Unconscious bias training is important, but it's a baseline," says Frans Johansson, diversity expert and founder of strategy and innovation consulting firm The Medici Group. "You need an overarching philosophy about why diversity and inclusion matters."
Companies must establish this culture from the onset, he tells CNBC Make It. From there, they can then develop comprehensive racial based training that targets things like improving customer service and enhancing employee performance.
Ripa Rashid, co-president at the Center for Talent and Innovation, agrees that sensitivity training must be part of a larger scale multi-pronged effort. But what she often sees are companies reacting to scandals. Rashid calls these "wartime instances."
"So a bad thing happens, either dollars are lost or there's a brand hit or a reputation hit, and the crisis management system goes into action," she tells CNBC Make It.
However, what really speaks volumes is what a company does during "peacetime," she says.