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Starbucks Embraces Individuality with Dress Code Change

Rachel Reed
8/4/16 3:33 PM

Starbucks recently released a new dress code policy to loosen up former regulations on employee style. From swapping the once-required monochromatic khaki, black, or white threads for a diversified (yet subdued) Starbucks-approved color palette to embracing body ink and dyed hair, the policy encourages baristas (called ‘partners’ by the chain) to feel comfortable at work and “to be as proud of their look as they are when they tie on their green apron,” says Cosimo LaPorta, executive vice president, US Retail Store Operations.

The new change in dress code comes hot on the heels of a 2015 online petition to allow employees to sport colored hair, as well as another one seeking to modify the coffee chain’s zero visible tattoo policy.  “Our success is rooted in our continual innovation and customization in every aspect of our business and this also applies to offering the best partner experience we can,” says Starbucks Canada president Rosann Williams.

Allowing employees to bring their own personal style to the workplace will not only attract and retain talent but also improve the customer experience. Although Starbucks has welcomed the customization of some of its 21,000+ locations for years with unique, region-specific design and adding features like its well-known event bulletin board, the new dress code policy adds local flavor and the familiarity of neighbors and friends to bring a sense of community to each store.

While Starbucks may lead the charge in being the largest coffee chain in the world, its latest change looks to be an attempt to follow the lead of other organizations evolving to meet the needs of young talent. “We are responding to what our partners have told us and are confident this will uplift the Starbucks brand, partner and customer experience.”  According to a June SHRM study, 83% of organizations allowed casual dress in some form in 2016. In addition to dress, organizations are making large-scale changes like transparency, individual recognition, tuition assistance, and implementing employee engagement programs.

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