- Starbucks will allow employees to wear clothing and accessories that support the Black Lives Matter movement, COO Roz Brewer and VP of Inclusion and Diversity Zing Shaw told employees in a letter posted on its website Friday. The company also designed 250,000 T-shirts to "demonstrate our allyship and show we stand together in unity" that feature phrases including "Black Lives Matter" and "No justice, No peace." Employees can wear their own BLM attire until the company T-shirts are available. Employees will receive additional operational guidance June 15, the company said.
- The statement came after BuzzFeed News released an internal memo Wednesday that told employees that clothing and accessories that supporting the Black Lives Matter movement could be misinterpreted and lead to violence. According to the publication, the bulletin also included a video of Shaw explaining that "agitators who misconstrue the fundamental principles" of the BLM movement could "intentionally repurpose them to amplify divisiveness."
- Starbucks' dress code prohibits attire that advocates a "political, religious or personal issue." A Starbucks spokesperson confirmed to BuzzFeed News yesterday that the memo was authentic and said the company is "dedicated to ending systemic racism" but that its dress code policy would stay in place "to create a safe and welcoming" environment at Starbucks stores. "We respect all of our partners’ opinions and beliefs, and encourage them to bring their whole selves to work while adhering to our dress code policy," the spokesperson said.
Starbucks' decision to reverse its policy also followed widespread backlash on social media and calls to boycott the company. Employees told BuzzFeed News in response to the initial ban on BLM attire that employees could wear attire that supports LGBTQ+ rights and that Starbucks has distributed pins and accessories supporting the LGBTQ+ community to partners in the past.
This dress code policy change comes just two years after a widely publicized incident where a Philadelphia store manager called the police on two Black patrons waiting on a third member of their party before ordering, and had them arrested. The following month, Starbucks closed its 8,000-plus U.S. locations for "several hours" to train its employees on racial bias.
Last week, Starbucks tweeted "Black lives matter. We are committed to being a part of the change." That came along with a more comprehensive statement that it is "actively hosting open and necessary conversations with our partners (employees) about racism the Black community faces." The company also said it is pledging $1 million "to organizations promoting racial equality and more inclusive and just communities" and has partnered with Arizona State University to create anti-bias resources and training.
The company also allowed employees at a Madison, Wisconsin, store that had its windows shattered to paint a mural on the wood boarding up its storefront that includes the phrase "We will confront racism... We will not be bystanders" next to an image of a raised fist. The company shared photos of this display in a blog post, which also included a statement from an employee that "The first Pride was actually a riot at Stonewall. That was an inflection point, and I do believe this is another inflection point. This is one of those moments where I think the tide is turning and change will happen."