A memo obtained by Buzzfeed shows Starbucks is banning employees from wearing anything in support of the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
Buzzfeed reports as protesters took to the streets in hundreds of cities across the United States and the globe to support Black Lives Matter and decry police brutality, Starbucks, like many major American companies, rushed to publicly proclaim its support for the movement and pledged to do more to combat racial injustice.
On June 1, the coffee retailer vowed on Twitter to “stand in solidarity with our Black partners, customers and communities.” A few days later, it tweeted, and then pinned, a more in-depth commitment to supporting Black Lives Matter and confronting bias and racism and to “being a part of change.”
Being part of that change does not extend, however, to allowing the company’s baristas and other employees to wear T-shirts, pins, or any other accessory that mentions Black Lives Matter.
In fact, the company explicitly stated 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. However, as many employees noted to BuzzFeed News, Starbucks not only exempts buttons and attire celebrating LGBTQ rights and marriage equality, but hands them out.
According to an internal bulletin obtained by BuzzFeed News, store managers had been contacting senior leadership on behalf of employees who wanted to wear BLM-related attire as protests continued to sweep major cities and small towns across the country.
In response, management, according to the memo from last week, argued that wearing clothing and accessories highlighting Black Lives Matter could be misunderstood and potentially incite violence. The bulletin pointed employees to a video, which has now been removed, in which its VP of inclusion and diversity explained that “agitators who misconstrue the fundamental principles” of the movement and could use them to “amplify divisiveness.”