On: October 23, 2014
In: News
Views: 750

From a PR Daily article by Beki Winchel

The baristas at your corner Starbucks will soon have permission to sport their tattoos and a few piercings while whipping up your triple-venti-soy-extra foam-latte.

The company recently announced a new dress code with an internal email. The code allows visible tattoos that aren’t on the face or throat, as long as they don’t include lewd depictions or swear words.

The dress code also now deems ear piercings (including small gauges), nose studs, black jeans, scarves, and ties acceptable accessories to the iconic green apron. The change came after 25-year-old employee Kristie Williams created a petition asking the Seattle-based coffee behemoth to allow employees to show off their ink.

“Being able to show off our tattoos lets us connect with our customers in more ways than we already do,” Williams said in the petition.

With more than 25,000 signatures, the petition couldn’t be ignored. However, Starbucks is not the only company accepting tattoos in the workplace: Petsmart and Peet’s Coffee & Tea have also approved a more chill dress code.

Will more join the trend?

Companies have to find a delicate PR balance between not turning off customers while increasing employee retention. This trend is becoming even more relevant as company cultures embrace individuality and creativity; younger employees may decide to work at startups and other organizations where they don’t have to hide bodily embellishments.

Attitudes seem to be changing, as well: A recent poll conducted by Entrepreneur reported that 78 percent of respondents thought tattoos should either be allowed in the workplace or addressed on a case-by-case basis.

It’s not just about individual attitudes and customer preferences: There are practical problems that come with covering tattoos that execs should consider.

For example, Starbucks employee Sara Frandsen told The Huffington Post covering up the ink “looks really unappetizing when you’re helping a customer and your arms are covered in milk, but you can’t roll up your sleeves, because, heaven forbid, they see your tattoos.”

The move to allow visible tattoos hasn’t made Starbucks’ dress code completely lax. The company still doesn’t allow unnatural hair color, additional facial piercings, or fingernail polish (although the latter is due to the risk that it may chip off into food or beverages). However, it is a sign of change, one that will continue to affect businesses.

One thing’s for sure: Starbucks’ move is making a lot of caffeinated hipsters very happy.


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