Several weeks into peaceful protests after the police killing of George Floyd, some beauty companies are starting to outline change, with plans to hire more Black employees and stock more Black-owned brands.
On Wednesday, Sephora became the first major retailer to sign on to Brother Vellies founder Aurora James’ 15 Percent Pledge, which asks major corporations to dedicate 15 percent of shelf space to majority Black-owned businesses.
The business has committed to all three stages of the pledge, including taking stock of the current percentage of shelf space and contracts dedicated to Black-owned businesses, taking ownership of findings, blind spots and disparities, and identifying concrete next steps, and taking action to publish and execute a plan to grow the share of Black-owned businesses to at least 15 percent.
Sephora said it will also help connect Black-owned brands to the venture capital community and help launch and develop Black-owned businesses. Accelerate, Sephora’s internal incubation program dedicated to female founders, will focus exclusively on women of color next year.
“We were inspired to make the 15 Percent Pledge because we believe it’s the right thing to do, for our clients, our industry and for our community,” said Artemis Patrick, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer at Sephora in a statement. “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. We recognize we can do better and this pledge builds on our ongoing work to use our resources to drive meaningful and long-term change for Sephora and our industry.
Some don’t see Sephora’s actions as enough — beauty retailer The Brown Beauty Co-op issued a statement asking for Sephora to complete its #PullUpforChange submission by releasing the number of black people in senior positions at the company. Sephora’s contribution gave figures for the U.S., where 14 percent of workers are Black or African American, and for leadership in stores distribution and warehouses, where 6 percent of employees are Black or African American, but didn’t disclose the number of Black employees in corporate senior leadership. The Brown Beauty Co-op, a retailer centered on women of color, also asked for Sephora to address in-store practices to ensure fair treatment of Black and Brown shoppers.
Over at the Estée Lauder Cos., executives committed to hiring more Black employees across all levels of the business, aiming to reach parity with the U.S. population within the next five years. The company also upped its donations to Black community causes after employees complained about Ronald Lauder, son of Estée and member of the company’s board, donating $1.75 million to President Donald Trump while the company had only pledged $1 million to Black causes.
At L’Oréal, Black trans model Munroe Bergdrof has been added to the diversity and inclusion advisory board of L’Oréal Paris UK after being fired in 2017 after speaking out against racism following a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va.
And at Shiseido, offices will be closed to observe Juneteenth — June 19, the date that marks the anniversary of the emancipation of millions of enslaved people in America — this year and all years in the future. “All U.S. employees will be given this day off to reflect not only on the current social movement and the historical significance of the date, but on what we can all do to educate ourselves and initiate meaningful, necessary conversations,” wrote Shiseido Americas chief executive officer Marc Rey in an internal memo.
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