Looking Ahead: Responsibility to Community

If Glossier is a community — including you all and us as former employees — that’s a rad concept for a beauty company. Our continued push is rooted in taking the brand at its word, and in its presentation as a forward-thinking, empathy-powered innovative entity (but if they come out and say, “community was a marketing gimmick”, we’re cool with that, too. At least it’d be honest).

We launched this effort because we thought there was a chance Glossier was willing to interrupt some shitty work culture by naming it, then tackling it head on with the people who bore the brunt of it. If Glossier is a community, we think that’s how they heal; and even though we want to take a relatively unorthodox collaborative route to do it, we hoped Glossier would be up for the challenge.

We’re not backing down, but we are disappointed to see how Glossier has looked away from all this since we responded to their plan of action. We operate with a non-carceral framework for justice, so we don’t think Glossier’s inaction should necessarily be the end of their world. But we do think that rebuilding trust with their “community” takes being open with them about what working retail was like; sharing developments if we have them; and ensuring that whoever among us is best equipped to work with Glossier on revamping the retail experience actually does — to prevent oversights (and that they’re appropriately supported so they’re set up for success).

The difficult core of transformative justice is in accepting the consequences of your violations while giving the transgressed the mic and letting them take the lead on setting things right. If Glossier is a community, that’s how accountability and justice work — offenders don’t clean up the mess themselves, because they’ve shown they can’t be trusted to do so. You’re accountable to people for specific actions. Justice begins with dialogue that’s not on the offender’s terms, because what their terms did to people are the hot button issue. It’s inherently collaborative, and hard work even when shared. Self-regulation isn’t likely here, and it’s full of hubris that flies in the face of what a diversified segment of their wider community has called for.

At the end of the day, Outta the Gloss just wants to ensure Glossier’s workers are protected to a reasonable extent against transgressions and demeaning interactions that aren’t brushed off in the future. We want to see resources that elevate and restore victims if/when there are incidences. We won’t stop pushing Glossier on executing those responsibly, and we think we’ve been pretty even-tempered with our communicating that so far. With the actions Glossier has already taken though, we’re musing on a few things:

  • Firing the offending managers was great — but all of retail was cut not long after. Was it truly in response to editors’ feedback in June, or advantageous timing and going to happen anyway? We don’t know. We don’t even know if their firings were explicitly communicated as the result of our discrimination complaints.
  • We want to see Glossier talk to former editors, but the format they’ve stuck to is exactly that of those conversations this summer. Where is the logic in doing this the same way unless they want the same results: to thank people for their feedback before retreating among themselves to eventually release a noncommittal action plan?
  • Incorporating more Black and brown faces in Glossier’s marketing is beautiful, but it stings when it’s visibly all at once after OTG has called them in and they haven’t followed up with us or maintained communication. It feels insincere, and reeks of tokenization.

We recognize that our greatest asset is this group of people advocating for/with us, so at this point we ask you all: what should we do since Glossier won’t fully step into this process and take appropriate action with us as harm doers? If you’re a fan of the brand and want to lend your power to this — what do you think would make them listen to you?

Outta The Gloss is a collective of former Glossier retail employees.