Starbucks drew criticism after a memo surfaced revealing the company prohibited employees from wearing clothing or accessories that supported the “Black Lives Matter” movement, but has now reversed the decision.
Despite Starbucks’ public stance in support of black lives matter, where on Twitter, the company vowed to “stand in solidarity with our Black partners, customers, and communities,” it was a different matter behind-the-scenes.
An internal Starbucks memo, which was obtained by BuzzFeed News and publicly published on June 10, revealed that employees of the coffee and retail giant were prohibited from wearing any clothing or accessories that advocates a “political, religious, or personal issue.”
The directive, by default, meant that employees were banned from wearing clothing that supported Black Lives Matter.
Numerous employees, however, pointed out that the company regularly allowed, and even encouraged, employees to wear pins in support of LGBTQ equality, especially during Pride Month every June, The Hill reported.
“Starbucks LGBTQ+ partners wear LGBTQ+ pins and shirts, that also could incite and create violent experiences amongst partners and customers,” an unidentified black transgender employee of Starbucks told BuzzFeed. “We have partners who experienced harassment and transphobia/homophobia for wearing their pins and shirts, and Starbucks still stands behind them.”
“We know your intent is genuine and understand how personal this is for so many of us. This is important and we hear you,” the memo read.
However, a top company executive reportedly sent a video along with a memo in which employees were warned that “agitators who misconstrue the fundamental principles” of the movement could seek to “amplify divisiveness” if the messages are displayed in stores, The Hill reported.
On Friday, Starbucks reversed an official company position that had forbidden its employees from wearing apparel, accessories or other paraphernalia, such as pins, that promoted the Black Lives Matter movement, CNN reported.
Going further, Starbucks will be issuing new branded company shirts that will include the phrase “Black Lives Matter.” Starbucks plans to deliver the new apparel to its 200,000 employees. Until the official company apparel arrives, Starbucks reversed its ban and told employees they have to permission to wear a “Black Lives Matter” T-shirt or pin.
“This movement is a catalyst for change, and right now, it’s telling us a lot of things need to be addressed so we can make space to heal,” Starbucks said in a letter to employees, that was also shared with the public, announcing the new T-shirt design.