Starbucks prevents baristas from wearing ‘Black Lives Matter’ apparel
Starbucks reportedly prohibits employees from wearing paraphernalia, such as T-shirts or pins, supporting the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
Although the company publicly supports Black Lives Matter on its social media channels and in a press release, an internal memo to employees obtained by BuzzFeed News explains that Starbucks won’t let baristas do the same.
In the memo, Starbucks said it won’t allow employees to wear “Black Lives Matter” material because “there are agitators who misconstrue the fundamental principals of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement — and in certain circumstances, intentionally repurpose them to amplify divisiveness.”
Starbucks encourages employees to wear apparel celebrating LGBTQ rights for Pride Month: The company hands out those items to baristas.
The internal memo was sent around after employees raised the question to corporate leaders. They noted that pride paraphernalia is allowed because it’s company-sanctioned, and Starbucks hasn’t handed out Black Lives Matter pins or T-shirts.
Starbucks didn’t immediately respond to CNN Business’ request for comment. But a company spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that the policy remains in place because it’s necessary “to create a safe and welcoming” environment.
The company has a complicated history with racial bias. In 2018 it temporarily closed down 8,000 company-owned cafes and ordered its 175,000 employees to learn and train about racism after a white Starbucks employee called the police on two black customers. Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz said the incident was “reprehensible” in full-page newspaper ads.
The death of George Floyd in police custody sparked nationwide and international protests and major companies spoke out in support of racial injustices, including Starbucks. The company said publicly on Twitter that it’s donating $1 million to organizations “promoting racial equity and more inclusive and just communities.”
Starbucks also posted a story on its press website highlighting a cafe damaged by vandals during a protest, highlighting employees serving coffee to other business owners, journalists, first responders and protestors.
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