Starbucks Coffee Company is telling its employees that it is against company policy to wear Black Live Matter gear at work.
In an internal memo obtained by BuzzFeed News, the coffee chain told its employees they “may only wear buttons or pins issued to the partners by Starbucks for special recognition or for advertising a Starbucks-sponsored event or promotion.”
The memo continued:
“And one reasonably sized and placed button or pin that identifies a particular labor organization or a partner’s support for that organization, except if it interferes with safety or threatens to harm customer relations or otherwise unreasonably interferes with Starbucks public image […] Partners are not permitted to wear buttons or pins that advocate a political, religious or personal issue.”
The memo notes that employees had asked if they could wear Black Lives Matter gear at work.
The company’s vice president of Inclusion and Diversity, Zing Shaw, said that Black Lives Matter gear does not fit in the dress code because there are “agitators who misconstrue the fundamental principles of the Black Lives Movement — and in certain circumstances, intentionally re-purpose them to amplify divisiveness.”
The memo comes as protests against racism and police brutality erupted around the country in the of George Floyd’s death.
Many companies have released statements to voice support for the Black Lives Matter movement or condemn racism.
Starbucks has issued a series of tweets vowing to “confront racism” and “create a more inclusive and just world.”
— Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) June 1, 2020
Black lives matter. We are committed to being a part of change.
— Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) June 4, 2020
Starbucks previously received negative attention related to race relations after two black men were arrested in a Philadelphia store in 2018.
Despite the company’s vows to address bias and racism, some employees accused Starbucks of hypocrisy by noting the company lets its employees wear pins celebrating LGBTQ rights.
Additionally, another employee told BuzzFeed they believed Starbuck was pandering to a “predominantly Caucasian customer base” to “ensure the money keeps coming in.”
However, a spokesperson for the company told BuzzFeed it is committed to fighting “systemic racism.”
The spokesperson added, “We respect all of our partners’ opinions and beliefs, and encourage them to bring their whole selves to work while adhering to our dress code policy.”
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