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Quinlan Ahead of the Curve on Bias Discussion

If you were in search of an afternoon caffeine jolt on Tuesday, May 29, you noticed that Starbucks was closed. Over 8,000 Starbucks closed that day to conduct diversity training focused on racial bias. This followed a much-publicized incident in Philadelphia in which two African American men were arrested while waiting for a third before they made a purchase. The incident set off a firestorm of discussion and sparked several apologies and positive changes. (Find details at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/starbucks-philadelphia-arrests-black-controversy-boycott-timeline-20180419.html).

But back to the Diversity Training. Consulted on the construction of the Starbucks training was Bryan Stevenson, a noted lawyer and author of the book “Just Mercy.” Loyola was ahead of the curve on the importance of diversity discussions. Mr. Stevenson’s book was read across Loyola University Chicago two years ago and was given to all in-coming freshmen prior to their Opening Convocation. He was Loyola’s invited speaker at this Convocation and he began the conversation on racial bias that continues in classrooms in the Quinlan School of Business and across the university.

Our Jesuit approach to societal changes involves unhurried and thoughtful discussions of dynamic and unresolved issues. A laudable goal is to have ready strategies and tactics when confronted with such turbulence. All courses address this, but some have this as a focus. The required Business Ethics course is one. Multi-Cultural Marketing is a popular course in which students delve deeper into the thoughts, values and expectations of various minority subcultures. Taught by Dr. Geraldine Henderson, an expert in the area and author of “Consumer Equality: Race and the American Marketplace,” students are introduced to myriad groups that comprise the U.S. population. A noble outcome is to change the focus from suspicion to inclusion in all interactions – even in the simple act of getting a cup of coffee.

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