As protests continue around the globe demanding an end to police brutality and systematic racism, the calls for brands to actively promote change and support Black people grows. And Sephora is one of the first major retailers to respond to one of the calls. In a press release shared with Elite Daily on June 10, Sephora confirmed it's taking the 15% pledge, which involves dedicating at least 15% of shelf space to Black-owned businesses.
“We were inspired to make the 15% Pledge because we believe it’s the right thing to do, for our clients, our industry, and for our community,” Artemis Patrick, EVP and chief merchandising officer of Sephora, said. “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.”
The 15% pledge was the brainchild of Aurora James, the Creative Director of Brother Vellies, who said that, because Black people make up 15% of the population, an equal percentage of the products available at a retailer should come from the Black community as well. “So many of your businesses are built on Black spending power. So many of your stores are set up in Black communities,” James wrote on Instagram on May 29. “We represent 15% of the population, and we need to represent 15% of your shelf space.” Her post specifically called out Whole Foods, Target, Walmart, Sephora, and other large retailers. Larger corporations giving more space to Black-owned businesses offers those businesses space to grow, reach new audiences, and potentially secure larger investors.
James' 15% pledge has three stages: First, a brand should find out the percentage of shelf space and contracts that are dedicated to Black-owned brands. Next, it should take ownership of the findings and disparities, and make concrete next steps. Finally, it should publish the plans on how the company will grow the percentage of Black-owned business on shelves to be held accountable. Sephora’s current plan is, according to the New York Times, to create an advisory group with James and other Black brand leaders to help make changes throughout Sephora's chain. The beauty retailer will also make all information concerning these changes public. It will also use Accelerate, its program dedicated to cultivating female business founders, to focus on women of color.
While Sephora is the first major corporation to publicly commit to the 15% pledge, hopefully more will follow in suit. This is only a first step, and there’s a lot more work to be done in order to raise Black people and businesses up, but it’s a start. To help get more brands on board, you can pressure your favorite brands on social media through DMs and comments, as well as sign the petition on 15percentpledge.org.