Starbucks reverses decision on banning employees from wearing 'Black Lives Matter' apparel
After issuing a notice to its employees, banning them from wearing accessories featuring slogans in support of the 'Black Lives Matter' movement while at work, one company has bowed to the ensuing social media backlash and announced a reversal of its decision.
According to CNN, Starbucks announced on Friday it would allow employees to wear BLM apparel while at work, and even made the decision to crank out over 250,000 specialty shirts of its own.
This week, Starbucks was hit with online backlash and renewed calls for a boycott, following reports that it had banned employees from wearing pins and t-shirts at work in support of Black Lives Matter protests.
“As we talked about earlier this week, we’re designing new t-shirts with the graphic below to demonstrate our allyship and show we stand together in unity,” Starbucks executives wrote in a letter to employees entitled “Standing together against racial injustice.”
The note added: “Until these arrive, we’ve heard you want to show your support, so just be you. Wear your BLM pin or t-shirt. We are so proud of your passionate support of our common humanity. We trust you to do what’s right while never forgetting Starbucks is a welcoming third place where all are treated with dignity and respect.”
The company’s ban on personal apparel wasn’t specifically crafted for Black Lives Matter, nor did it recently take effect.
Instead, a long-standing dress-code among Starbucks employees — known internally as “partners” — states that clothing accessories need to be company-issued, and can’t “advocate a political, religious or personal issue.”
According to a weekly update sent to baristas obtained by BuzzFeed News, store managers recently asked Starbucks leadership about employee requests to wear pins or t-shirts supporting Black Lives Matter. The memo pointed to Starbucks’ dress code, which states:
“Partners may only wear buttons or pins issued to the partner by Starbucks for special recognition or for advertising a Starbucks-sponsored event or promotion; and one reasonably sized and placed button or pin that identifies a particular labor organization or partner’s support for that organization, except if it interferes with safety or threatens to harm customer relations or otherwise unreasonably interferes with Starbucks public image. Pins must be securely fastened. Partners are not permitted to wear buttons or pins that advocate a political, religious or personal issue.”
According to the bulletin, Starbucks’ head of diversity and inclusion accused “agitators who misconstrue the fundamental principles of the Black Lives Matter movement — and in certain circumstances, intentionally repurpose them to amplify divisiveness.”
According to BuzzFeed, some Starbucks partners expressed disappointment that BLM attire wasn't permitted at work under the dress code. Those quoted in the article specifically pointed out that many employees wear buttons for LGBTQ rights, which were issued by Starbucks.
Only a day after this was pointed out, Starbucks took action to retract its original decision and to begin producing similar gear for BLM supporters