Last week, employees at a Cambridge Whole Foods said they were told they had to remove their face masks emblazoned with "Black Lives Matter," or they had to go home. In a statement, Whole Foods said their dress code "prohibits clothing with visible slogans, messages or advertising that are not company related." To get a better idea of what this might mean for the company's image, WGBH News' Aaron Schachter spoke with Tina McCorkindale, CEO of the Institute for Public Relations. The following transcript has been edited for clarity.

Tina McCorkindale: This isn't the first time we've seen this historically. We just saw it last week with Starbucks. And it has this sort of policy-versus-employees feeling to it, right? Where does the policy fit in, but then the voice of the employees. And it's really hard as a company to say you align your values with Black Lives Matter movement — we're going to do these programs and donate — but yet you don't let your employees express their values at work.

Aaron Schachter: It's a tough place for a company to be, I would imagine.

McCorkindale: It is a tough place for a company to be, but it's also an opportunity for companies to grow. I think sometimes companies default to the policy — "and here's our corporate policy," instead of saying, "you know, is this the right policy for what is happening right now, and is this best reflecting our employees?" Because we expect now increasingly that employees, one, they have more power than they ever have. But we also expect our employees to bring their authentic selves to work. So that's the other place, where's the trade off with company policy versus what our employees need?

Schachter: So what would you tell Whole Foods right now? I mean, certainly it does seem a little bit hypocritical on the one hand to open up the Whole Foods website and see Black Lives Matter and then have employees, you know, sent home because they have exactly that same message on their face masks.

McCorkindale: Yeah, I think it's a couple of things. One is, you know, a face mask is now required, it's more of an extension. If Whole Foods had said, look, you have to wear these face masks because they provide the most protection and they're all branded with Whole Foods. But when you're asking people to accessorize their own way with shoes, jewelry and masks that they're required to wear, then you should be able to let them express themselves. But that also depends. But if you're a company [that is] promoting is the Black Lives Matter movement and that you are supportive to fight against racial injustice, especially what we've seen systemically with some companies, then you should allow — from my perspective — you should allow your employees to wear the mask. It also aligns with the values of Whole Foods. So it would be very different if, you know, Whole Foods had a stance against this, and this weren't on brand for them. But this is 100 percent on brand for them. And, you know, the more the employees across the country rise up and say, "Hey, you know what, we need this. This is what we want from our employer," Whole Foods is going to, along with other grocery stores, change their tune.

Schachter: You know, somebody brought up what apparently Michael Jordan once said, which is he's not going to pick a side for anything because, you know, both sides buy sneakers. Is that not the case here?

McCorkindale: No. It's very different than when Michael Jordan was a basketball player. You know, you can take it back to Colin Kaepernick and what happened with Nike, right, where Nike stood up. So I think we're seeing more employees stand up. And this is what Whole Foods is about, right, they're different. They're owned by Amazon. It's sort of the culture and the value of what they stand for. So, I think it's different and it's a different time now where we're focused more on stakeholder capitalism, you know, more power in the hands of the stakeholders that companies represent. So I think I think that times are changing and companies should better reflect the times.