Back in July, Starbucks announced plans to close 16 stores across the US, citing concern for employee safety. (The closures happened in Seattle, Los Angeles, Portland, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC, per TODAY.) At the time of the announcement, a video of CEO Howard Schultz from an “internal meeting” was leaked on Twitter, with Shultz reflecting on the impact neighborhood conditions can have on employee safety. “Starbucks is a window into America,” said Schultz. “We have stores in every community, and we are facing things in which the stores were not built for. And so we’re listening to our people and closing stores, and this is just the beginning. There are going to be many more. “
During corporate outreach sessions, TODAY reports Starbucks employees voiced concerns about their safety. In an open letter, senior vice presidents of Starbucks US operations Debbie Stroud and Denise Nelsen empathized, “You’ve been open and honest with us about your experience … You’re also seeing firsthand the challenges facing our communities … We read every incident report you file — it’s a lot.” The letter rolls out a list of new plans for keeping workers safe, including de-escalation, active shooter, and mental health first aid training.