“Our partners (employees) told us that they need a way to express themselves at work and we heard them,” Starbucks wrote in a social media message

By Maria Pasquini
June 12, 2020 03:39 PM
Advertisement
Starbucks
| Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty

Shortly after Starbucks came under fire for not allowing its employees to wear clothing or accessories in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, the company publicly reversed its policy.

Although Starbucks had previously supported the movement on social media, in an internal memo published on Wednesday by BuzzFeed News, the company reiterated that their dress code policy did not permit employees to “wear buttons or pins that advocate a political, religious or personal issue.”

Additionally, the memo pointed towards comments made by Starbucks’ Vice President of Inclusion and Diversity, who said the clothing and accessories could be misconstrued by “agitators” and potentially “amplify divisiveness.” Numerous employees told the news outlet that the company did not have the same problem with apparel supporting LGBTQ rights, which are handed out to employees.

Two days later, as many on social media spoke out against Starbucks, even threatening to boycott the company, Starbucks shared that employees would now be allowed to “wear Black Lives Matter t-shirts, pins and name tags.

“Our partners (employees) told us that they need a way to express themselves at work and we heard them,” the company wrote on Twitter, alongside a link to a letter, entitled “Standing together against racial injustice,” discussing the policy change in depth.

Acknowledging some of the questions they had been asked about the policy — including “Do you understand how I feel!?” and “Do you understand the black community is in pain?” — Starbucks wrote that they are “designing new t-shirts...to demonstrate our allyship and show we stand together in unity.”

Co-designed by the Starbucks Black Partner Network, the shirts feature a variety of slogans, including “Time for Change,” “Speak Up” and “Justice” alongside the phrase, “It’s not a moment, it’s a movement.”

“Until these arrive, we’ve heard you want to show your support, so just be you. Wear your BLM pin or t-shirt,” the company continued. “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 shirts will be sent to over 250,000 employees.

Starbucks previously said on Twitter that they are "committed to taking action, learning, and supporting our Black partners, customers and communities."

In addition to donating “$1 million in Neighborhood Grants to promote racial equity and create more inclusive and just communities," the company also said they were partnering with Arizona State University to "design anti-bias resources and training."

The company previously came under fire in 2018, after a store manager called the police on two black men who were holding a business meeting at the coffee shop without having made a purchase.

After apologizing, the company temporarily closed all company-owned stores for racial-bias training.

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

• Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.

ColorofChange.org works to make the government more responsive to racial disparities.

• National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.