Starbucks on Friday said employees can wear Black Lives Matter-related clothing at work, reversing a dress code that sparked online outrage.
The Seattle-based coffee chain told employees they’re free to sport BLM apparel despite telling them last week that it would violate company policy. Starbucks is also making its own Black Lives Matter shirts to distribute to its more than 250,000 store staffers, it said.
“Until these arrive, we’ve heard you want to show your support, so just be you,” Starbucks executives Roz Brewer, Rossann Williams and Zing Shaw said in a letter to employees. “Wear your BLM pin or t-shirt. We are so proud of your passionate support of our common humanity.”
Starbucks drew fire this week after BuzzFeed News published an internal memo advising employees that Black Lives Matter gear violates the corporate dress code. A company spokesperson told the outlet the policy was meant “to create a safe and welcoming” space for customers and staff alike.
But Brewer, Williams and Shaw said Starbucks trusts its employees to “do what’s right while never forgetting Starbucks is a welcoming third place where all are treated with dignity and respect.”
The reversal followed calls for a Starbucks boycott on Twitter, where users questioned the sincerity of the company’s pledge to support black staff amid nationwide protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Some pointed out that Starbucks has given employees buttons and T-shirts in support of LGBT people and marriage equality, as BuzzFeed reported.
“If Starbucks is saying #BlackLivesMatter attire is prohibited, and you end up there, Make ‘Black Lives Matter’ your name so they have to write it on the cup and shout it out loud,” Steve Marmel tweeted Thursday.