When Starbucks announced its adamant support of the Black Lives Matter movement on Twitter in the wake of George Floyd's death, many Starbucks employees asked their managers and corporate representatives if they could wear shirts or pins in support of the movement to work. The answer, according to a memo obtained by Buzzfeed News, was a firm "no."
The memo, which was confirmed as genuine by a company spokesman, states that a number of store managers had asked about the request during a weekly "Workplace Live" event.
In response, the memo stated, "As a reminder, the dress code policy we have carefully considered and defined over the past few years states: 'Partners may only wear buttons or pins issued to the partner by Starbucks for special recognition or for advertising a Starbucks-sponsored event or promotion. ... Partners are not permitted to wear buttons or pins that advocate a political, religious or personal issue."
The memo went on to explain why an exception would not be made for Black Lives Matter regalia, claiming that "there are agitators who misconstrue the fundamental principles of the Black Lives Matter movement — and in certain circumstances, intentionally re-purpose them to amplify divisiveness."
All is not lost for Starbucks employees who want to support Black Lives Matter, however, since the memo states, "We know your intent is genuine and understand how personal this is for so many of us. ... In the meantime, you can show support for black partners by wearing the Black Partner Network's 'Keep it Brewing' T-shirt."
Many of Starbucks' employees appear to have been unimpressed with the memo, with one black transgender employee telling The Hill that "Starbucks LGBTQ+ partners wear LGBTQ+ pins and shirts, that also could incite and create violent experiences amongst partners and customers... We have partners who experienced harassment and transphobia/homophobia for wearing their pins and shirts, and Starbucks still stands behind them."
In response to a request for further clarification in the memo, a spokesperson for Starbucks said, "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."