Starbucks is making its own Black Lives Matter shirt available for baristas after facing backlash on social media when it was revealed their dress code banned employees from wearing anything that supported the movement. The company also said it will allow employees to wear BLM pins and shirts to show support while the new shirts are being made. There will be 250,000 shirts made for employees in the U.S. and Canada, Starbucks told the Associated Press.
On Friday, Starbucks executives issued a memo to employees titled "Standing together against racial justice," in which the company insisted they will "not be bystanders." The memo continued, "We see you. We hear you. Black Lives Matter. That is a fact and will never change." The memo included a preview of the graphic to appear on the new shirt, which features signs reading "Black Lives Matter," "No Justice No Peace," "Together We Can" and "Time for a Change." A phrase under the signs reads, "It's not a moment, it's a movement." The t-shirt was designed in partnership with the Starbucks Black Partner Network.
Black Lives Matter. We continue to listen to our partners and communities and their desire to stand for justice together. The Starbucks Black Partner Network co-designed t-shirts with this graphic that will soon be sent to 250,000+ store partners. pic.twitter.com/Wexb45RcTE— Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) June 12, 2020
Until the shirts are available in stores, employees will be allowed to wear Black Lives Matters pins and shirts to work. "We are so proud of your passionate support of our common humanity," the company's memo reads. "We trust you to do what’s right while never forgetting Starbucks is a welcoming third place where all are treated with dignity and respect."
On Thursday, BuzzFeed News reported on an internal memo sent to Starbucks stores that said employees could not wear BLM attire because support for the movement could be misunderstood by customers and incite violence. The memo included a reminder that employees "may only wear buttons or pins issued" by Starbucks for "special recognition or for advertising a Starbucks-sponsored event or promotion." There was also a reminder that the Black Partner Network previously created a "Keep it Brewing" shirt, which could be worn. Multiple Starbucks employees told BuzzFeed they were disappointed by the memo, especially since Starbucks previously created shirts to support LGBTQ rights.
Starbucks previously announced earlier this month it pledged $1 million to racial equality organizations and was working with Arizona State University on developing anti-bias resources. The company also published a tweet that included the phrase "Black lives matter" and it was bombarded with critics accusing Starbucks of being hypocritical.
Starbucks has had issues with race before. In 2018, the company closed every store so employees could attend anti-bias training after two Black men were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks after an employee called police because they did not buy anything. The company also tried an initiative in 2015 when baristas were asked to write "race together" on cups, but it was canceled after criticism.