- Many called for a boycott of Starbucks on Thursday after learning that employees were prohibited from wearing clothing that supports the Black Lives Matter movement.
- The company’s dress code policy banned attire that advocates for a political, religious, or personal matter, which many found hypocritical given Starbucks’ recent statement in support of the movement.
- Some also found the rule to be inconsistent, as the company encourages employees to wear apparel in support of the LGBTQ community.
- Starbucks then reversed the policy on Friday saying, “We see you. We hear you. Black Lives Matter.” They will also be designing their own BLM shirts for employees to wear.
Starbucks Reverses Decision
Starbucks will now allow its employees to wear apparel in support of the Black Lives Matter movement after facing fierce backlash for previously banning it under its dress code.
“We see you. We hear you. Black Lives Matter. That is a fact and will never change,” they wrote in a Friday morning message addressed to their employees, whom they call partners. The letter was written by the Chief Operating Officer, Roz Brewer; Executive Vice President Rossann Williams; and the Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion, Zing Shaw.
In response to this historic time, our store partners can also show support for the Black Lives Matter movement with their own t-shirts, pins and name tags. To learn more, visit: https://t.co/LQ6fKsIP10— Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) June 12, 2020
The company also announced that it is currently designing its own Black Lives Matter t-shirts. Until those arrive, Starbucks is encouraging its staff to wear their own clothing in support of the movement.
“We’ve heard you want to show your support, so just be you. Wear your BLM pin or t-shirt,” the coffee chain added. “We are so proud of your passionate support of our common humanity.”
Customers Threaten to #BoycottStarbucks
This statement came one day after many pledged to boycott the Seattle-based coffee giant for telling its employees that wearing anything in support of Black Lives Matter was not allowed under the chain’s dress code.
In an internal memo obtained by BuzzFeed News, Starbucks said staff could not wear any pin that “interferes with safety or threatens harm to customer relations or otherwise unreasonably interferes with Starbucks public image.”
Banned pins include anything that advocates for a political, religious, or personal matter. Because of this, Black Lives Matter clothing did not “currently adhere to policy.” Starbucks instead suggested that employees wear a “Keep It Brewing” t-shirt that had been designed by their Black Partner’s Network. This came after employees were asking if they could wear Black Lives Matter attire as the country sees ongoing protests against police brutality following the death of George Floyd.
Many believed that it was hypocritical of the company to bar their employees from actually supporting the movement in their stores, especially after its recent public statement. On June 4, the chain pledged its support of Black Lives Matter and promised to donate $ 1 million to organizations promoting racial equality.
Others were frustrated that staff can wear pride pins in support of LGBTQ rights, but not Black Lives Matter. In some cases, employees have said the company will actually give out LGBTQ pins and attire.
“If a partner can wear something in support of the lgbt community then y’all shouldn’t ban us from wearing something in support of #BLM,” one person wrote.
A bulk of the frustrations came from the fact that many believed that racial equality should not even be considered a political issue.
Response to Company’s New Position
Even after Starbucks reversed their decision, many were still outraged that it had to take the threat of a boycott for the company to allow its staff to publicly support Black Lives Matter.
On the other hand, some were pleased that the chain listened to the public and its employees.
“So damn proud to be a partner today!” one Twitter user said.
In it’s Friday statement, Starbucks claimed that it wanted to be part of the calls for change across the country.
“This movement is a catalyst for change, and right now, it’s telling us a lot of things need to be addressed so we can make space to heal,” the company leaders wrote. They promised to ensure “a safe third place where you are seen, heard and valued.”
See what others are saying: (CNBC) (Forbes) (Wall Street Journal)
Nike To Clean and Resell Used Sneakers at a Discounted Price
- At least 15 Nike retail locations in the U.S. are participating in a new program the company calls “Nike Refurbish,” which is aimed at reducing waste.
- As part of it, Nike will restore shoes with manufacturing flaws, as well as donated or returned shoes, and resell them at a discounted price.
- Shoes at the end of their wear will be recycled into Nike Grind materials that are used to construct running tracks, gym floors, playgrounds, other Nike products, and more.
Nike announced a new program on Monday called “Nike Refurbish” that will help boost sustainability and reduce waste.
As part of the program, the brand will take donated and returned shoes that are like new or gently used, as well as shoes with cosmetic manufacturing flaws, then clean and restore them to resell at a discounted price. Returned shoes must have been brought back within Nike’s 60-day return period in order for them to be resold.
All the refurbished shoes will have labeling on the box with information about their condition grade. Plus, they are also covered under Nike’s 60-day return policy.
Nike’s Recycling Efforts
Nike didn’t say what it previously did with returned sneakers in its announcement, but the new plan is part of its wider attempts to recycle materials.
On its website, it markets the initiative as a way for customers to “help keep shoes out of landfills.” and join Nike’s efforts towards, “Zero carbon and zero waste to help protect the future of sport.”
Shoes that are truly at the end of their wear will be recycled into Nike Grind materials that are then used for tons of other projects, including running tracks, gym floors, playgrounds, outdoor courts, as well as other Nike apparel and footwear.
So far, 15 Nike retail locations across the U.S. are confirmed to be participating in this model, but there are plans in place to expand this list over the course of 2021.
See what others are saying: (FOX Business) (Footwear News) (Miami Herald)
Uber Sees Record Ride Demand But Doesn’t Have Enough Drivers Available
- Demand for Ubers outpaced driver availability in March, according to a Monday statement from Uber.
- On top of seeing its best-performing month since the beginning of pandemic closures, the company also received more bookings last month than any other month in its entire history.
- In an attempt to attract more drivers, Uber announced a $250 million, one-time stimulus payment last week to “boost” driver earnings.
- While Uber said it believes it will turn a profit for 2021, the company could be set back more than $500 million because of a U.K. Supreme Court ruling that gives the country’s drivers minimum wage, holiday pay, and pension.
Uber Posts Record-Setting Growth
Uber announced Monday that its ride requests for the month of March were the highest it has ever recorded in its 12-year history.
According to a filing with the SEC, last month, the company crossed “a $30 billion annualized Gross Bookings run-rate.” Alongside that, average daily Gross Bookings grew 9% from the previous month.
Notably, this also marked the company’s best month since March of last year, when pandemic closures began in the U.S.
On top of that, Uber said its delivery business crossed “a $52 billion annualized Gross Bookings run-rate in March, growing more than 150% year-over-year.”
In fact, that demand over the past month was so high that Uber didn’t have enough drivers to meet it.
“As vaccination rates increase in the United States, we are observing that consumer demand for Mobility is recovering faster than driver availability, and consumer demand for Delivery continues to exceed courier availability,” the company said.
$250 Million Driver Stimulus
Monday’s filing is in line with another announcement from Uber, which said last week that it is opening up a $250 million driver stimulus to “boost” earnings for drivers.
“In 2021, there are more riders requesting trips than there are drivers available to give them—making it a great time to be a driver,” the company said at the time. “We want drivers to take advantage of higher earnings now because this is likely a temporary situation.”
“As the recovery continues, we expect more drivers will be hitting the road, which means that over time earnings will come back to pre-Covid levels.”
Can Uber Become Profitable?
In February, Uber reported $6.8 billion in losses for 2020, and for years, many have questioned if its business model is even profitable at all; however, in this latest filing, Uber said it believes it’ll become profitable by the end of 2021.
That said, last month, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom handed drivers a major win by ruling that they need to be reclassified as “workers,” guaranteeing them minimum wage, holiday pay, and pension.
While big news, the U.K. classifies “workers” and “employees” separately. As a result, U.K. drivers still aren’t granted full benefits.
The decision will also likely be a setback for Uber, as Bank of America has estimated that it could cost the company more than $500 million.
Uber’s Vaccine Access Fund
In other Uber news, the company — along with PayPal and Walgreens — has launched a “Vaccine Access Fund.”
Through that fund, customers can donate money that will be used to help people who normally lack transportation get to their vaccination appointment.
Notably, all three companies have said they’ll donate a joint $11 million.
That’s on top of the $5 million PayPal previously donated, as well as the 10 million free and discounted rides Uber promised to give in December.
Uber users are able to donate in-app, and PayPal has launched a donation page on its website.
See what others are saying: (The Wall Street Journal) (CNBC) (CNET)
China Hits Alibaba With $2.8 Billion Antitrust Fine
- Chinese regulators slapped Alibaba with a $2.8 billion fine for monopolistic practices on Saturday, which amounts to 4% of the e-commerce mega-giant’s domestic sales.
- Regulators accused the company of specifically engaging in a policy known as “choose one out of two,” where Alibaba would penalize sellers who also used other platforms to sell their goods.
- CEO Daniel Zhang believes the company won’t be negatively affected by the fine, which could have been set as high as 10% of all sales.
- Despite the fine, the company’s stock rose over 6% by Monday’s closing of the Hong Kong stock exchange.
Dominating the Marketplace
The Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba was hit with a $2.8 billion antitrust fine by Chinese regulators on Saturday for using its dominant position in the market to punish merchants and rivals.
In particular, it engaged in a policy known as “choose one out of two,” where a seller on Alibaba would be penalized in a variety of ways if they were found to be selling on another platform.
While the $2.8 billion fine seems large, it only accounts for 4% of the company’s domestic sales. The fine could’ve been far worse, as antitrust fines in China can go as high as 10% of the company’s annual sales.
Alibaba has agreed to take the fine, not fight it, and will fully comply with the demands of the regulators. Those demands include three years of “self-examination compliance reports” to ensure the company isn’t engaging in the same practices.
The news comes after the company’s founder, Jack Ma, has been under intense scrutiny from Chinese officials. Ma has not been seen in the public eye for months and his Ant Group, a sister company to Alibaba, is being forced by Chinese regulators as of Monday morning to become a financial holding company; therefore facing much stricter banking regulations.
Clear Sailing From Here
Fortunately for Alibaba, the company has managed to dodge much of the scrutiny Ma faces as he isn’t really involved with the business anymore. Its current leadership also doesn’t think the fine will really affect the company at all. Unlike Ma’s past rhetoric that was dismissive of regulators, CEO Daniel Zhang released a statement on Saturday that struck a conciliatory tone.
“Alibaba would not have achieved our growth without sound government regulation and service, and the critical oversight, tolerance and support from all of our constituencies have been crucial to our development,” he said.
Zhang added Monday morning that he doesn’t expect any negative impacts from the situation, which possibly helped Alibaba’s stock to rise sharply from $223 per share to $241 as of Monday’s closing of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, where the shares are traded.
There are a plethora of reasons that could explain the stock’s rise just after it was the target of a major antitrust fine, but notably, there doesn’t seem to be any more antitrust fines in the pipeline, leading investors to be confident that the worst is behind the company.