Starbucks sparks controversy with its policy about employees wearing Black Lives Matter gear

Starbucks Coffee store on June 10, 2020 in San Rafael, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Starbucks Coffee store on June 10, 2020 in San Rafael, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) /

Starbucks will not allow employees to wear Black Lives Matter gear, sparking criticism from those who support the movement.

On June 1, Starbucks took to social media to take a stand in regard to the Black Lives Matter movement. At the time, they Tweeted out that they stood in “solidarity with our Black partners, customers, and communities.” They took that message even further a few days later, with a much more in-depth statement.

And while that is all well and good, their latest move is sparking a lot of backlash. According to Delish, the hashtag #BoycottStarbucks is now trending after an internal memo leaked and was shared by Buzzfeed, making it clear that Starbucks employees are not allowed to wear Black Lives Matter gear to work.

What Starbucks Told Its Employees

In the memo, management told employees that any Black Lives Matter gear, from buttons to shirts, is prohibited, as it goes against their dress code. The company’s statement explains that it feels there are too many people out there who purposely misconstrue the BLM movement and its principles. They feel that it puts a target on the employees and the store.

Based on what the memo had to say, it seems as if Starbucks is trying to prevent violence in their stores and against their employees. However, the problem with all of this is that they state that the BLM gear is advocating “a political, religious, or personal issue.” And as so many employees have already pointed out, “the company allowed workers to wear accessories supporting marriage equality and LGBTQ+ rights, even giving them pins and Gay Pride shirts, since June is Pride Month.”

While you might say that this is comparing apples to oranges, it really isn’t. While it makes sense that Starbucks is hoping to avoid violence at their stores and against their employees, the fact that they are making it seem like the Black Lives Matter movement is a political issue or a personal issue is so out of touch with their own statements to the contrary.

And even though they are apparently offering to allow their Black employees to wear shirts from the Black Partner Network which were created to advance the “conversation around the African diaspora,” it is nowhere near the same thing.

Starbucks is making the wrong move with its stance against allowing employees to wear BLM gear, even if only a button or pin, because it sends the wrong message. All of the company’s talk about being against racism and trying to do the right thing over the years has been set back simply because of the way they are handling this discussion of dress code.

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To learn how you can help support the Black Lives Matter movement, visit the organization’s website.