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Starbucks successfully drew great attention around the world. Two black men were arrested by Philadelphia police when they were waiting for friends at a Starbucks on 12th April 2018. These two guys’request that they wanted to use the restroom was rejectedbecause they did not order anything in the Starbucks. One of the Starbucks’ staff called to the police when she found that they still stayed at the Starbucks without ordering.A guest tried to stop the policeman from taking the two innocent black men away on the spot.Many local people spontaneously organized parade activity to protest this racial incident. Starbucks Company quickly apologized for this matter officially and claimed that Starbucks would close all 8000 stores in America in order to let their nearly 175,000 staffs take part in training on 29th May.The topic of this training will be related to anti-racism. A lot of people hold praisefulattitude on this feedback because they think Starbucks dealt with this matter appropriately. On the contrary, many people concern that endlessracial discriminationincidentsare making “black and white confrontation” phenomenon more and more fierce in America.
According to the facts, the ethical issue of this incident is racial discrimination. Firstly, there is no clear stipulation ruling that one cannot use the restroom in any Starbucks if he or she does not order. The two black men have rights to use the restroom, but they were rejected. Secondly, anyone can stay in a public area (like a Starbucks) if he or she does not disturb public order. The Starbucks staff have no reason to call the police although someone purchases nothing while he or she stays in the store. Furthermore, the police should not arrest anyone under the situation that no crime evidence exists. In this incident, both the Starbucks staff and the policemen subconsciously believed that the two black men are bad guys andviolated their lawful rights and interests. The two innocent black people suffered racial discrimination.
The stakeholders of this incident include the two black men, the staff of the Starbucks, the policemen who arrested the two black men, and the Starbucks Company. The two arrested black men must be frightened and they will think the society is unfair to them. The staff and the policemen might be punished by the company or Philadelphia police. Furthermore, they will be denouncedby the public because they discriminated black people. It is conceivable that the incident will impose psychological shadows or mental pressure on all the two black men, the staff of the Starbucks and the policemen. Considering that the incident has received great attention from the public, I think the most important stakeholderis the Starbucks Company instead of individuals. Harrison and Freeman(2004) stated that increasing stakeholder’s participation in value creation and organizational governance can be beneficial for society. And that good communication between corporation and stakeholders is very necessary for CSP implementation(Crane and Glozer, 2016). As a well-known company, Starbucks will lose great reputation and significant consumers owning to this racial discrimination incident. Although the company has apologized and closed all stores to carry out the anti-racism training, the heart of Black American has been broken. It will be a long way to rebuild its brand. More seriously, the white supremacy has been prevailing since Trump came to power and many anti-racism groups are quite active. The incident is bound to aggravate the “black and white confrontation” phenomenon in America. Consequently, the two groups of people, Black American and White American, are also stakeholders in this incident.
Actually, this incident would not have developed to this situation if the staff of the Starbucks appropriately responded to the two black men or the policemen properly acted when they arrived at the Starbucks. For the staff, they could accept the two guys’ request firstly. If they found the two guys did something abnormal (e.g., stay long in the restroom), calling the police would be a good option. In addition, the staff could let the two guys give up their seats to consumers who have ordered if there are not enough seats. Only when the two guys are unwilling to cooperate can the staff ask the police for help.For the policemen, they should investigate carefully before arrestingthe two guys. Many other consumers in the store can give additional information to help the policemen to judge whether the two black men are bad or not. They were supposed to arrest someone relying on professional judgment and evidence rather than unconsciousness.
As mentioned above, the focus of the incident is the rights of human beings (i.e., the two black men). That is why we think the staff of the Starbucks and the policemen reacted inappropriately. This confirms the ethical theory proposed by John Locke John Rawls (JohnMarshall, 1994, Rawls, 1986, Rawls et al., 2003). The rules of the theory are the respect for human beings. However, the ethics of duties(Rosen, 1989, Sullivan, 1989), one of the traditional ethical theories, considers that the rules of ethics are categorical imperative. Human beings are rational moral actors to do their duties. According to this theory, the staff of the Starbucks and the policemen just performed their duties in the incident. From the perspective of the staff of the Starbucks, they wanted to protect the interest of the Starbucks. Considering the higher crime rate of black people in America, the staff called the police in order to keep their store safe. From the perspective of the policemen, they arrested the two black men because they received the call. Furthermore, the police released the two black men after an investigation. Consequently, we cannot totally negate the behaviors of the staff and the policemen(Crane et al., 2010, Matten and Crane, 2010, Moon et al., 2005).
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