Starbucks reverses after backlash, will allow employees to wear “Black Lives Matter” attire

Starbucks has reversed an earlier policy to not allow “Black Lives Matter” attire after social media backlash.

CNBC reports Starbucks said Friday that the chain would allow workers to wear attire and accessories highlighting the Black Lives Matter movement, reversing its prior stance after social media users called for boycotts of the company.

Buzzfeed first reported on Wednesday that the coffee chain would not allow its employees to wear Black Lives Matter clothing or accessories, and management justified the decision by saying that such items could be misunderstood and incite violence. While Starbucks has a policy against wearing personal, political or religious clothing or accessories, workers told Buzzfeed that the company hands out buttons and attire celebrating LGBTQ rights and marriage equality.

Now, Starbucks will be doing the same for Black Lives Matter. The chain will make 250,000 shirts with a design that includes “Black Lives Matter” and “No Justice, No Peace” available to workers in its company-owned cafes in the United States and Canada. The company said that it began planning to provide shirts for employees last week.

Until the shirts arrive, employees can wear pins or shirts to show support.

Per SFGate, “We see you. We hear you. Black Lives Matter. That is a fact and will never change,” the company said in a letter posted Friday. “This movement is a catalyst for change, and right now, it’s telling us a lot of things need to be addressed so we can make space to heal.”

Earlier this week, and first reported by BuzzFeed, the company turned down a request from baristas and other employees who wanted to show their support for the BLM movement. In a memo to its 250,000-member workforce, Diversity Officer Zing Shaw said “there are agitators who misconstrue the fundamental principles of the Black Lives Matter movement – and in certain circumstances, intentionally repurpose them to amplifying divisiveness.”

The news sparked backlash on social media, including calls to boycott the company, just days after Starbucks had issued a “Black Lives Matter” statement of solidarity and committed $1 million to social justice groups as protests broke out across the country following the death of George Floyd, a black man, in police custody.

On Friday, in a posting signed by Shaw, Chief Operating Officer Roz Brewer and Executive Vice President Rossann Williams, the company said it is producing T-shirts with “Black Lives Matter” and other slogans for staff in the United States and Canada to “demonstrate our allyship and show we stand together in unity.”