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Featured Jun 16, 2020 4 min read

How retailers are waking up to racial injustice and their responses

In response to worldwide protests, brands are now recognizing and implementing the necessary changes within their organization to support diversity initiatives.

Racial Injustice

Retailers have been responding to the death of George Floyd and worldwide protests with messages of support and donations. The focus has been on the changes brands and retailers will make to improving diversity and providing equal opportunities.

PULL UP OR SHUT UP

Launched by Sharon Chuter, founder and CEO of UOMA Beauty, the Instagram account has gained 104k followers since its first post on June 3rd. The campaign challenges brands that had previously made a statement of support to make public the number of Black people in their organization, excluding field/retail store level employees and customer service, as well as the number of Black people in leadership roles. After being called out to #PullUpOrShutUp, Monki addressed in a post citing, “laws in place in Sweden (which is where Monki HQ is)”, as to why they couldn’t participate.

The 15% pledge

Created by Aurora James, the campaign asks stores to commit a minimum of 15% of their shelf spaces to Black-owned businesses. The 15% is representative of the proportion of the US population that is Black. Sephora responded, “we recognize how important it is to represent Black businesses and communities, and we must do better. So, we’re starting now”. Other retailers taking the pledge include ban.do, Rent The Runway, Violet Grey, Loho Bride, Threads, WeWoreWhat and MATCHESFASHION have committed to publish an annual breakdown of the designers they support by ethnic background, with the first disclosure by the end of August.

Retailers state they must do better

Headed by the bold statement ‘I’ve failed’, Yael Aflalo, Founder of Reformation, posted a personal apology for racist behavior on the retailer’s Instagram in response to criticism from past employees. Noah Clothing also shared their mistakes saying, “our team has let us know that we simply have not done enough”.

Action plans for improvement

Alongside financial pledges one of the most discussed steps being made by retailers is the development of Diversity and Inclusion committees and boards. Other actions stated include: having more Black representation in management and leadership; collaborating more with Black creators, models and Black brands; and implementing unconscious bias training, training on racism, equality and social injustice across organizations. Some retailers are also asking consumers what they think they could be doing better. In the US, Adidas has pledged that 30% of all new jobs will be filled by Black and Latinx people.

Internal Diversity & Inclusion boards

Donations

Financial pledges have been notable across Instagrams and retailers’ email communications. Retailers such as Same Swim, Araks and Staud are donating a portion of profits. While Phillip Lim urges consumers to consider contributing to an anti-racism movement instead of shopping on their site, with organizations listed to donate to. In a similar vein, Ganni stopped taking orders and urged customers to donate instead.

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