BLM: Beauty Brands' Diversity Turning Point
As Black advocates push brands to go further than supportive statements and donations and lay the groundwork for long-term change, the beauty retail industry is under particular pressure to diversify its ranks and broaden opportunity. We highlight two key calls for change, and how brands are responding.
- Pressure to ‘Pull Up’: The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement is further pushing consumers towards values-based consumption. Sixty-seven per cent of Americans claim that how businesses react to matters such as BLM will permanently affect their decision to buy from the company, and 66% say it’s important that the companies they buy from have a diverse management team (Morning Consult, 2020).
Aligning with this consumer passion, the #PullUpOrShutUp challenge demands that brands standing up for BLM reveal how many Black employees work there. The initiative’s Instagram account @pullupforchange was launched in early June by Sharon Chuter, the Nigerian-born, London-based founder of Uoma Beauty, and has collected well over 100k followers in under two weeks.
Several dozen brands have participated in the challenge – some of which outlined action steps for improvement. For instance, Estée Lauder-owned Clinique pledged to boost Black employees’ access to professional development, to partner with Black influencers, and to require input from Black creatives on concept development.
- Money & Mentorship: As noted in Brand Response to Black Lives Matter Uprisings, cult US beauty brand Glossier was quick to commit $1m, split between donations to racial justice organisations and Black-owned beauty businesses. Last week it announced details of its grant initiative, which welcomes pre-launch, early stage or growth-stage brands to apply for sums of $10k, $30k and $50k, respectively. Glossier teams will also provide one-on-one advisory support and promotion on the brand’s channels. “We are committed to supporting and amplifying new leaders and voices, particularly those who have been historically underrepresented and under-resourced,” the brand said.
- Equal Representation at Retail: The 15 Percent Pledge launched with a call for select US retailers to dedicate 15% of shelf space (roughly the percentage of Black Americans in the US population) to Black-owned brands. The organisation, launched by Aurora James – the Canadian-born, NYC-based founder of fashion brand Brother Vellies – has quickly captured attention, gaining 40k Instagram followers in its first two weeks. She aims to hold those who pledge accountable – ensuring a substantive corporate evolution.
French beauty giant Sephora, which saw backlash in April for treating its employees poorly during the pandemic, was the first to commit. It plans to create an advisory group that includes James to assist.
For more on brands supporting small businesses during the outbreak, see Covid-19-Responsive Retail Collectives. Also look out for more on this topic in our Community + Commerce Spotlight Trend from the Brand Engagement division, publishing in the autumn.