Some of the steps Starbucks took as part of its anti-racial bias campaign may have been a mistake, former fast-food CEO Andy Puzder argued on Tuesday.
“This policy implementation with respect to the restrooms and not having to buy anything to be in the place, they may have gone too far,” Puzder, now a policy advisor at pro-Trump group America First Policies, said in a “Squawk Box” interview. He formerly was chief executive of CKE Restaurants, the company behind the Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. chains.
However, he added, “There should be more openness than they had” and the company did need to “address the problems of employees kicking out people that are just sitting there waiting for a third party to show up.”
Earlier this month, Starbucks announced a new policy allowing anyone to sit in its cafes and use the restrooms even if they don’t buy anything.
The mandate was put in place after the April 12 arrests at a Philadelphia Starbucks of two black men waiting for a business meeting. They had asked to use the restroom. They didn’t buy anything.
To try to make sure this type of situation doesn’t happen again, Starbucks is set to make good on its promise and close more than 8,000 of its U.S. locations Tuesday afternoon to conduct racial bias training for more than 175,000 of its employees.
Some industry experts have questioned, and criticized, whether Starbucks can actually end racism in its stores over the course of an afternoon.
Puzder said he wouldn’t doubt Starbucks’ chairman, Howard Schultz, on the company’s moves to address its problems because Schultz “is obviously a genius at this.”
“They’re really very intent on maintaining what they call their ambiance feeling when you go to Starbucks,” Puzder said. “They want to appeal to a certain demographic. It’s sort of a progressive, inclusive demographic, and they want people to know they are concerned about these issues.”