As people continue to protest and donations continue to accumulate in response to the senseless murder of George Floyd at the hands of police—just one of many painful examples of the long-term racism entrenched in the United States—advocates are committed to seeing change within the corporate construct of major retailers. Aurora James, CEO and founder of Brother Vellies, took to Instagram on Monday to call out the inequality amongst major retailers and offer them the opportunity to create change with what James calls the 15% Pledge—a pledge to dedicate 15 percent of brands' shelf space to Black-owned brands.
In her Instagram post, James called out the power of the Black dollar. "So many of your businesses are built on black spending power. So many of your stores are set up in Black communities. So many of your sponsored posts are seen on Black feeds. This is the least you can do for us. We represent 15% of the population and we need to represent 15% of your shelf space," wrote James.
Major retailers like Target, Sephora, Shopbop and Whole Foods were listed in James' callout and encouraged to make the far-overdue change. Sephora was the first major retailer to step up to the plate to accept and commit to all three stages of the 15% Pledge.
The 15% Pledge is comprised of three stages:
- Take Stock: Analyze the current inventory and shelving space dedicated to black-owned businesses.
- Take Ownership: Step up and be transparent with the public by releasing the company's current statistics.
- Take Action: Make the change to dedicating 15% of shelving space to black-owned businesses and remain transparent with the community throughout the process.
On Wednesday, Sephora released a statement outlining their plan of action and the ways they are striving toward change. "This is only the start. We know we have more work to do, and we encourage other businesses to take the Pledge and help drive change for Black businesses and communities," Sephora wrote.
While there's a long, long way to go, Sephora's commitment to taking on the pledge is a step in the right direction.