Starbucks backtracks on its previous decision to not allow employees to wear clothing that visibly supports the Black Lives Matter movement.
In a letter posted Friday, executives of the coffee chain say workers can now wear attire, such as a T-shirt or pin, that stands in solidarity with the black community.
“Wear your BLM pin or t-shirt. We are so proud of your passionate support of our common humanity,” wrote Rosalind “Roz” Brewer, chief operating officer and group president; Rossann Williams, the executive vice president and president of U.S. company-operated business and Canada; and Nzinga “Zing” Shaw, chief inclusion and diversity officer.
“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,” they added.
Per a Starbucks memo obtained by BuzzFeed News on Wednesday, the company previously prohibited baristas from wearing Black Lives Matter-related attire because of “agitators who misconstrue the fundamental principles” of the movement, as well as those who might “amplify divisiveness.”
Calvin Bensen, a 22-year-old barista from Atlanta, reacted to the memo, telling BuzzFeed News that Starbuck’s statement was “disappointing in ways I can’t express in words. That statement prioritizes those who feel discomfort over Black lives.”
“My skin color incites violence at Starbucks. Should I not come to work?” Bensen asked. “It is silencing and Starbucks is complicit. Now more than ever, Starbucks needs to stand with us.”
On Thursday, Twitter user and reported Starbucks employee @0ri_Molina noted that the company previously allowed workers to wear clothing in support of the LGBTQ community, and even sold Pride-related merchandise.
“I might get fired for this but I’m calling @Starbucks out, how are y’all gonna say we can’t wear any anything BLM bc it’s a personal issue, but have us wear and profit off pride month shirts, cups, gift cards. BLM and Pride were both created to fight injustice, what’s the difference,” the social media user wrote.
In response to this tweet, the company announced it will send all U.S. employees T-shirts, co-designed by its Black Partner Network, to show support for the BLM movement.
Hello. All U.S. CO partners will be sent a Starbucks partner shirt to lend our collective voice in support of our Black partners, customers and communities. The design will come from the Black Partner Network emphasizing our role and responsibility to not be bystanders.— Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) June 11, 2020
The design of said shirts was unveiled on Friday.
View this post on Instagram
Black Lives Matter. We continue to listen to our partners and communities and their desire to stand for justice together. In response to this historic time, our store partners can show support with their own t-shirts, pins and name tags. To learn more, visit the link in our bio. The Starbucks Black Partner Network has also co-designed t-shirts with this graphic that will soon be sent to 250,000+ store partners.