Starbucks Reverses Ban On BLM Gear After Severe Backlash

Starbucks is a chain that has usually positioned itself on the more "woke" side of the spectrum, what with its sustainable, fair trade coffees and its recyclable cups. What's more, Starbucks has also launched diversity campaigns that speak to their stated mission "to inspire and nurture the human spirit; one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time," and they've even been named as one of the best workplaces when it comes to promoting diversity. Okay, so their coffee costs a whole lot more than McDonald's or Dunkin', but if they're on the side of the angels, perhaps its money well spent?

Well, not always. Starbucks is a gigantic corporation, after all, which means at heart they're on the side of whatever makes them the most money, and at times they engage in some kind of shady practices. Still, one recent, and very public, misstep they made was something nobody saw coming. At a time when protests surrounding the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police are highlighting issues of racial injustice like never before, Starbucks inexplicably banned its employees from wearing anything promoting the Black Lives Matter movement. 

In an internal memo leaked to Buzzfeed News, senior Starbucks feared that such items might "amplify divisiveness." Well, the wearing of such items may not have provoked much controversy, but Starbuck's ban on the practice sure kicked up a pretty heated response.

Starbucks walks back its ban

You'd think Starbucks would have learned by now, after that 2018 racial profiling incident in Philadelphia that prompted anti-bias training for all employees (via The New York Times). Guess they've got to learn their lessons the hard way, though, and that's exactly what happened when social media exploded in outrage once news of the BLM ban leaked. There were even calls for a boycott until Starbucks quickly backed down and reversed their decision.

Starbucks initially tried to skirt the issue, telling Yahoo! Finance they "encourage [partners] to bring their whole selves to work while adhering to our dress code policy," with the sticking point being that dress code. As it stands, the code prohibits all "buttons or pins that advocate a political, religious or personal issue," and, in fact, any buttons or pins not issued by Starbucks themselves. 

Once management realized just how passionate everyone feels about showing support for BLM, though, they issued a statement that they'd be coming out with t-shirts promoting an anti-racism message. In the meantime, employees will be permitted to wear their own BLM pins and shirts. It seems that once everyone started protesting, Starbucks suddenly remembered just how proud they were of their workers' "passionate support of our common humanity," and that they actually do "trust [them] to do what's right." 

Whatever it takes to put themselves back in the camp of the "good guys"... but Starbucks, the eyes of the world are upon you. Better not mess up again.