On June 10, the coffee chain sent out a memo to employees that prohibited the wearing of Black Lives Matter attire in stores, as it adheres to the company dress code policy, which prohibits any political, religious, or personal accessories or clothing.
According to management, the company argued that wearing clothing and accessories supporting Black Lives Matter movement could be misunderstood and potentially incite violence at various locations due to the rise of nationwide protests for George Floyd.
Consumers immediately condemned the announcement online, while some Starbucks workers pointed out indifference in wearing supporting attire for a cause, as the company allows hand-outs/attire celebrating LGBTQ rights and marriage equality.
Starbucks then revealed on Friday, just two days after its original decision, the news to reverse its stance on the prohibition of Black Lives Matter attire in stores, in response to the company backlash after social media called for a boycott.
In the memo sent out to employees, Starbucks said it won’t allow employees to wear Black Lives Matter attire because “there are agitators who misconstrue the fundamental principles of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement — and in certain circumstances, intentionally repurpose them to amplify divisiveness.”
Now Starbucks will make and provide 250,000 shirts for employees with the design, “Black Lives Matter”, and “No Justice, No Peace”. The company revealed is plan for the shirts and pins that will available to cafés in the United States and Canada. For the time being, employees can wear their own pins and shirts.
In a letter addressed to the public, Starbucks outlined its views on standing together against racial injustice.
“We have always led with Our Mission and Values. Through every moment in our history, and in every crisis, Starbucks has come together to show: We will not be bystanders. This has never been more true than today.”
Starbucks also posted on social media days before the memo of its message to combat racism it stated “We are committed to taking action, learning, and supporting our Black partners, customers, and communities.” The company alleges to pledge $1 million to organizations that promote ‘racial equity and more inclusive and just communities.”
Black lives matter. We are committed to being a part of change.
— Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) June 4, 2020
In the past the company has a reputation for racial insensitivity, as back in 2018 the national chain temporarily closed over 8,000 stores to train employees about racism after two black customers were racially profiled by a white employee in Philadelphia.