The Black Lives Matter movement and global protests for racial injustice have inspired a number of call-to-actions within the beauty industry -- and on social media.
One is Pull Up for Change, created by Sharon Chuter, founder of Uoma Beauty, which is currently calling out beauty brands to ask about its pecentage of black employees. The movement holds beauty brands accountable for its statements and calls for transparency regarding specific data on its support of the black community.
Another movement is the Fifteen Percent Pledge, which was started two weeks ago by Aurora James, a creative director in Brooklyn, with her hand-written post shown below.
Now, the @15percentpledge has 40k followers in Instagram, and calls on retailers to take stock of the percentage of shelf space and contracts given to black-owned businesses and suppliers. It asks retailers to publish its findings, as well as concrete steps to increase that number to 15%.
Why 15%? Black people in the U.S. make up nearly 15% of the population.
Black-owned businesses only represent 1.3% of total U.S. sales, based on data from SBA, the 15 Percent Pledge stated. Its post says, "For Black-owned businesses, major retailers are the gatekeepers of millions of potential customers, and billions of dollars of potential sales. Let’s ask major retailers to say no more business as usual, and take the #15percentpledge."
Sephora Signs On First
James called out four retailers to be the first to take the Pledge -- Sephora, Target, Shopbop, and Whole Foods. Sephora was the first - and only of the four - to respond.
James posted, "With unparalleled influence and power, not only in the beauty industry but in retail at large, Sephora is making a historic contribution to the fight against systemic racism, economic inequality and discrimination by taking this Pledge."
She continues, "We commend their early leadership and look forward to working with them on their accountability and commitment as we join together in the mission to put billions back into the Black community."
Artemis Patrick, chief merchandising officer of Sephora told the NY Times, “Ultimately, this commitment is about more than the prestige products on our shelves...It starts with a long-term plan diversifying our supply chain and building a system that creates a better platform for Black-owned brands to grow, while ensuring Black voices help shape our industry..."
Photo above: via Instagram/Sephora
@wholefoods @target @shopmedmen @walmart @saks @sephora @netaporter @barnesandnoble @homedepot I am asking you to commit to buying 15% of your products from Black owned businesses. . So many of your businesses are built on Black spending power. So many of your stores are set up in Black communities. So many of your sponsored posts are seen on Black feeds. This is the least you can do for us. We represent 15% of the population and we need to represent 15% of your shelf space. . Whole Foods if you were to sign on to this pledge, it could immediately drive much needed support to Black farmers. Banks will be forced to take them seriously because they will be walking in with major purchase orders from Whole Foods. Investors for the very first time will start actively seeking them out. Small businesses can turn into bigger ones. Real investment will start happening in Black businesses which will subsequently be paid forward into our Black communities. . Dont get me wrong, I understand the complexities of this request. I am a business Woman. I have sold millions of dollars of product over the years at a business I started with $3500 at a flea market. So I am telling you we can get this figured out. This is an opportunity. It is your opportunity to get in the right side of this. . So for all of the ‘what can we do to help?’ questions out there, this is my personal answer. #15PercentPledge . I will get texts that this is crazy. I will get phone calls that this is too direct, too big of an ask, too this, too that. But I don’t think it’s too anything, in fact I think it’s just a start. You want to be an ally? This is what I’m asking for.