To Tattoo or Not to Tattoo? — Starbucks, Ink, & Customer Experience

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“Cover your tattoos!” That’s the current policy at Starbucks (and for that matter many other businesses).

Partners (the Starbucks term for employees – more on that in my recent book Leading the Starbucks Way) are hired without prejudice for tattoos; they just can’t be visible to customers. Now the company is reconsidering its policy and if Starbucks makes the change, it is logical to conclude many other employers will follow suit.

So how did this reconsideration process begin at Starbucks? It started with a question from Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz, asking partners how their careers could be improved. One of the risks of asking such a question is that you have to seriously consider and respond to the input you receive and in Starbucks case that input included a sizable response concerning the freedom to bare ink.

While I personally have not sought to express my individuality through tattoos, my hunch is Starbucks will and should change its policy. I know the leadership at Starbucks and they know the importance of partner engagement to the delivery the experience they seek. Their employee and customer base will not be aghast with visible tattoos on baristas and few, if any, customers will turn away from the brand for a reversal on this policy.

Companies who select and hire people only to tell them to hide a part of themselves at work might think about changing their selection criteria as opposed to developing policies to quell the spirit and individuality of those hired. That’s my two cents…what do you think?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Michelli, Ph.D.
Joseph Michelli, Ph.D., an organizational consultant and the chief experience officer of The Michelli Experience, authored The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and the best-selling The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary Into Extraordinary.

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