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Brands Take The 15% Pledge To Increase Inclusivity In the Industry

Yan Ots on Unsplash

Amid the anti-racist protests occurring on a global scale the last several weeks, our social media feeds have been cluttered with posts from companies addressing the issues. While most have been surface level at best, tone-deaf at worst, there have been some companies that have made statements that really rang genuine.

However, it’s clear that we need more than just statements and donations to make actual change. One Brooklyn-based retailer, Aurora James, came up with the idea of the 15% pledge to help alleviate some of the barriers that Black-owned businesses face, especially during a pandemic.

The 15% pledge grew from the fact that though our population is 15% Black in this country, only 3% of the products on most major store shelves are from Black-owned businesses. This pledge is to get major companies, such as Sephora and Target, to make their shelves represent the population they serve.

The simple 3 step pledge is outlined below:

  1. Take stock. Assess the state of your merchandise mix supplier by supplier and audit the racial representation of executives at your company.
  2. Take ownership. Publicly release findings; transparency and accountability are critical to remedying institutional shortfallings.
  3. Take action. This phase demands not only striving to meet 15 percent Black-owned brand inclusivity, but actually doing it.

While some brands have largely been quiet in response, there are a handful of brands that have come forward to put some muscle behind their #blackouttuesday posts. While as of this moment, it is largely smaller brands who have made the pledge, a few hard hitters, such as Sephora and Rent The Runway, have publicly announced that they will be taking a deep look at their internal processes to make changes.

It seems like we’re at a really incredible moment in business and in the world right now. Although it is incredible in a negative and exhausting sense, in that it’s awful that people have to fight this hard just to get the world to understand that they matter, it is also incredible in a really encouraging sense. No longer can people sit back and pretend that racism isn’t intertwined into our everyday lives. The visibility and protests are working, at least in part. The fact that a brand as big as Sephora has vowed to give more power to Black businesses is huge in itself. But perhaps what is even huger is the fact that many other brands may follow suit. This will then increase access to mainstream distribution platforms for Black businesses overall.

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