Starbucks announced Friday it has reversed a policy which previously banned employees from wearing apparel, pins and buttons showcasing support for the Black Lives Matter Movement. The news followed a wave of backlash from staff and customers (who also threatened to boycott the coffee chain) after an internal memo obtained by BuzzFeed was published earlier this week.
The memo served as a reminder that, under the chain's Third Place dress code, employees are banned from sporting gear that advocates for religious or political movements, including Black Lives Matter.
By Thursday, the hashtag #BoycottStarbucks was trending on Twitter. Many people claimed they were upset by the chain's decision to make "agitators" more comfortable than those who support Black lives, especially after Starbucks' new public commitment to racial equality and social justice.
A day later, the Seattle-based corporation changed its tune.
Starbucks also announced that its Black Partner Network had designed a new T-shirt with the colors of the Pan-African flag. The graphic is a combination of peaceful protest signage, including "Black Lives Matter," "Time for Change," and "No justice, no peace." In vibrant yellow, the bottom reads: "IT'S NOT A MOMENT, IT'S A MOVEMENT."
The new gear will be sent to more than 250,000 stores once printed but, before then, the company heads told employees to wear what they wanted to show support during "this historic time."
"Until these arrive, we’ve heard you want to show your support, so just be you. Wear your BLM pin or t-shirt. We are so proud of your passionate support of our common humanity," the company wrote in its letter to partners.
It is not clear whether this policy reversal will remain in effect only until the corporate-made T-shirts arrive or if it is a permanent adjustment to the chain's previous dress code. A Starbucks representative was not immediately available for comment.