Starbucks announced this week that company policy will now allow partners (what the company calls employees) to ditch the khakis and black shirts traditionally worn under the signature green aprons for a more personal style. Shorts, skirts, jeans, hats and shirts of all colors and patterns are now welcome behind the counter.
And according to the new rules, "partners are invited to make a statement with hair color." This is a sudden departure from Starbucks's previous policy against unnatural hair colors. The company allegedly fired employees in the past for having unconventional hair color.
The new policy was tested out at Manhattan's 47th Street and Broadway location last fall. The company's announcement says customers noticed immediately. "They actually thought that something was wrong," store manager Mario Leon says in the company's press release. "They would ask me, 'Why are you guys all out of uniform?' And we just told them, 'No, this is the new uniform for this store.'" Leon adds that customers were happy to see their baristas freely expressing themselves.
The relaxed dress code comes just two weeks after Starbucks announced it would increase base pay at least five percent for all workers. In 2014, the Seattle-based company partnered with Arizona State University to provide full tuition for employees' first two years of ASU's online bachelor's degree program. In 2015, Starbucks expanded the plan to pay for all four years.