The protests against police brutality and racial injustice have sparked dialogue across numerous fields about racism and diversity. Despite many companies showing their solidarity through donations and social media posts, others are trying to keep their distance from political drama. Coffee retailer Starbucks is reminding employees that they can’t show Black Lives Matter affiliations while on the job.
According to BuzzFeed, Starbucks sent a company memo to its employees stating that Black Lives Matter attire was prohibited from the lists of things employees can wear due to its dress code policy, which also includes any type of political, religious, or personal accessories, or clothing. This comes after the company recently went on Twitter stating it stands “in solidarity with our black partners, customers and communities.”
Employees told BuzzFeed this came as a surprise considering the company allows employees to wear attire celebrating LGBTQ rights and marriage equality.
According to an internal memo, store managers had been contacting senior officials about employees wanting to wear BLM-related attire in light of the protests. Many employees grew angry with the tone-deaf move and look at it as a slap in the face to the plight they are dealing with.
A 22-year-old Starbucks barista in Atlanta, Calvin Bensen, expressed disappointment. “My skin color incites violence at Starbucks. Should I not come to work?” he asked. “It is silencing and Starbucks is complicit. Now more than ever, Starbucks needs to stand with us.”
Starbucks spokesperson responded to the report stating the company is dedicated to helping end “systemic racism,” but that the dress code policy would remain in place because it was necessary “to create a safe and welcoming” environment for customers and staff.
“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.
UPDATE 6/12/20 – Forbes has reported that Starbucks has announced it will allow staffers to wear Black Lives Matters merchandise and it will be creating 250,000 specialty shirts to support the movement as well.