starbucks broken window
© REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs
A damaged Starbucks window after a George Floyd protest in Manhattan, New York City, May 31, 2020.
Starbucks overrode its long-standing dress code and pledged to sponsor 'Black Lives Matter' merchandise after celebrities and activists threatened to 'cancel' the coffee chain for its perceived lack of wokeness.

The company announced on Friday it would sponsor 250,000 'BLM' shirts for its employees and allow buttons supporting the cause, reversing course after just one day of social media brigading.

The shirts are intended to "demonstrate our allyship and show we stand together in unity," the executives wrote in a letter on Friday, titled 'Standing together against racial injustice'.


Starbucks encouraged its staff to sign up for a training course in "systemic racism and bias" plus a variety of sessions promoting the agenda of Black Lives Matter, and described taking part in protests and supporting the "Black Partner network" as some of the ways to "affect [sic] real and meaningful change."

The announcement comes just one day after celebrities and BLM activists roasted the coffee chain over its dress code - which forbade baristas and other staff from wearing buttons or other paraphernalia supporting the movement - citing media reports from Thursday.

Starbucks has long mandated that any buttons or pins worn by the employees have to be issued by the company for "special recognition" or advertising a sponsored event or promotion - such as the ongoing LGBT Pride Month. The policy also prohibits support of causes if it "interferes with safety or threatens to harm customer relations or otherwise unreasonably interferes with Starbucks' public image."

Partners are not permitted to wear buttons or pins that advocate a political, religious or personal issue.

While claiming it's a nonpartisan cause, Black Lives Matter has been fundraising using ActBlue, a platform run by the Democratic Party.


This is not the first time Starbucks has had to kneel on the coffee beans for racial justice activists. Back in May 2018, the company closed all of its 8,000 stores across the US for "racial sensitivity training" following an incident in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A manager called the police after two African-American men insisted on using the store bathroom, even though they weren't customers. The altercation was caught on video, which went viral and generated outrage.