Aug 10, 2022 - Economy

Sesame Place to implement anti-bias training for employees

Sesame Place characters perform at the 94th annual 6ABC Dunkin, Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2013 in Philadelphia. Photo: Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images

Sesame Place this week pledged to conduct a comprehensive racial equity assessment of company policies, implement anti-bias trainings for employees and enhance its diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) program.

Why it matters: The announcement comes after a viral video showed a costumed employee apparently gesturing "no" and ignoring two Black girls at the Sesame Street-themed amusement park despite high-fiving a white child and woman. The video spurred many other posts showing park employees' alleged refusal to engage with Black children and led to a class-action lawsuit.

Driving the news: The racial equity assessment will review company policies and practices and give internal and external stakeholders the chance to identify areas of improvement, Sesame Place said Tuesday in a press release.

  • The company has also committed to having all employees participate in an anti-bias training and education program by the end of September. The training will be added to onboarding processes for new employees and become a "regular part of our training and workforce development."
  • National civil rights and DEI experts will oversee the new programming, including Debo P. Adegbile, a commissioner on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and Joseph West, co-chair of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

What they're saying: "We have already begun engaging with employees, guests, civil rights groups as well as community leaders, and instituted some interim measures at the park while the review proceeds," Cathy Valeriano, president of Sesame Place Philadelphia, said in a statement.

  • "The actions we are taking will help us deliver on our promise to provide an equitable and inclusive experience for all our guests every day," Valeriano added.

Yes but: The Brown family, whose video went viral, is set to meet with SeaWorld CEO Marc Swanson alongside Rev. Jesse Jackson on Thursday to "address the deficiencies we have noted from this most recent press release," the family's attorney B’Ivory LaMarr said in a statement.

The big picture: Another family based in Baltimore filed a class-action lawsuit against Sesame Place's parent company SeaWorld Parks in July, citing "pervasive and appalling race discrimination" related to costumed employees' alleged pattern of snubbing Black children.

  • The Burns family seeks $25 million in compensation as well as accountability from SeaWorld in the form of policy reviews and changes.

Go deeper: Black family sues Sesame Place over alleged discrimination

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