Last week, Starbucks made its pinned tweet one with a timely message: "Black lives matter. We are committed to being a part of change." This week, per the Hill, some are calling the company's stance a disingenuous one in light of its recent enforcement of a dress code that doesn't allow for baristas and other employees to display that same message. In a memo seen by BuzzFeed News, the company reminds workers who'd inquired that they're not allowed to wear clothing or accessories that promote a "political, religious, or personal issue"—meaning no "Black Lives Matter" T-shirts, pins, buttons, or the like. The company notes in the memo that there could be "agitators who misconstrue" what the Black Lives Matter concept is all about, and who could purposely try to "amplify divisiveness."
"We know your intent is genuine and understand how personal this is for so many of us," the company states. "This is important and we hear you." That explainer is being met with skepticism, especially by the many employees who spoke with BuzzFeed and say the company not only permits workers to wear attire and accessories supporting LGBTQ rights—it even hands them out during Pride Month in June. The company also has a section on its site dedicated to "LGBTQ Inclusion." So why the "hypocritical" message on Black Lives Matter, as some workers claim? Critics say it's because the company wants to keep its image controversy-free, cater to white customers, and keep the money flowing. "Our movements are just too controversial for Starbucks to stand behind," one employee notes. Another pushes back: "I don't think asking for and supporting those who want basic human rights is necessarily political." (More Starbucks stories.)