Circulating protest message claims that UK based stores Poundland and BodyShop have banned their staff from wearing Remembrance Day poppies.
The message contains inaccurate and misleading information. The protest originated from an incident at a Northern Ireland Poundland store in which a staff member was asked to remove a poppy to comply with company policy. However, Poundland has since changed its policy to allow staff to wear poppies at their discretion. Moreover, the claim that BodyShop has banned the wearing of poppies is totally false.
According to this rather breathless, ALL CAPS message, which is circulating rapidly via social media websites and email, UK based outlets Poundland and BodyShop have both disallowed their staff from wearing Remembrance Day poppies. The message decries this policy as being disrespectful to soldiers who have lost their lives in defence of the country and asks that people repost the information to support for the troops.
There is an element of truth in the message. However, in its current form, the message contains inaccurate, outdated and misleading information. Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, The Body Shop is NOT banning employees from wearing poppies. Nor has it ever done so. The Body Shop has publicly denied the claim, noting on its Facebook Page:
We just want to reassure everyone that there is no truth to this rumour. We fully support our staff who wish to wear a poppy.
It seems that the false claim about The Body Shop is the result of mistaken identity. Back in November 2009, a chain with the similar sounding name “Bodycare” did ban its staff from wearing poppies. The policy caused considerable protest and discontent and Bodycare later revoked its ban and changed its policy to allow staff to wear poppies if they chose.
Unfortunately, the apparent naming error in this protest message means that The Body Shop is being unfairly maligned for the actions of a completely unrelated company. Moreover, Bodycare changed its poppy policy years ago, so, even if the company had been correctly identified, the 2011 version of the protest message would be hopelessly outdated.
As for the claims in the message about Poundland, a manager of one Poundland store did indeed ask a staff member to remove a poppy because it did not comply with company policy. However, after a considerable public outcry, the company changed its dress code policy and now allows staff to wear poppies.
In a statement published on the Poundland blog, company CEO Jim McCarthy notes:
On Friday 28th October a situation in Northern Ireland was brought to the company’s attention where a store colleague was politely asked to remove a poppy by our store manager in order to comply with company policy. The store colleague decided to walk out and stated that she would return on Monday next wearing her poppy.
We have listened to the views of customers and colleagues and have, in light of their feedback, reviewed the policy. We have decided that in the case of the poppy appeal to allow store colleagues to use their own discretion in wearing poppies. This change in policy is consistent with recent reviews of policy made by other leading High street retailers. We apologise for any unintended offence that has been caused.
Thus, this would-be protest message in its current form, not only unfairly damages the reputation of The Body Shop, a company that has never banned its workers from wearing poppies but also contains claims about Poundland that are no longer valid or accurate.
Moreover, as is common in such cases, mutant variants of the message are already beginning to circulate that name various other companies as supposedly initiating poppy bans. These claims are also invalid.
While social media driven messages can be a powerful method for members of the public to voice their discontent about the actions of a particular company or group, sending on false or inaccurate information is entirely counterproductive. Before reposting such a protest message, users should first ensure that the information it contains is accurate and up-to-date.