From a global pandemic, environmental crises, fluctuating economies and the most recent anti-racial protests, feeling indifferent in front of the uncertainty of the future is impossible. The beauty industry has joined the wave of corporate support through a series of initiatives to demonstrate their solidarity in the Black Lives Matter movement. However, many are exploring more substantial ways to address the problem.
Posting black squares and sharing educational resources on social media platforms to stand up against violence and systemic racism towards people of colour was just the first step. The real challenge is turning words into actions with a goal whose longevity is aimed towards a better future.
CEO and Founder of UOMA Beauty, Sharon Chuter launched her 72-hour Pull Up or Shut Up campaign, challenging brands to release their policies on race equality in the workplace. In her Instagram video, Chuter invited all companies and labels who had participated in "#blackouttuesday" to release the number of black employees they have at a corporate and executive level.
"Whereas we understand and appreciate the support, be conscious that to piggyback off a trending hashtag when you have been and continue to be a part of the problem is once again appropriating and exploiting the black community. You all have statements and policies about being equal opportunity employers, so show us the proof," Chuter wrote.
One of the first brands to respond and openly share their numbers was Elf Cosmetics, followed by Milk Makeup, who admitted to having only four black employees out of 45 members of their team. The brand that originally earned respect for its unisex packaging, publicly announced their partnership with a talent development agency, hoping to establish equality in the creative field and become a more diverse company.
The list of brands that pledged to improve their employment practices also includes cosmetics leaders The Estée Lauder Companies, Revlon and Sephora, whose data results still show meagre black participation considering the companies magnitude. Makeup Revolution and Curology also made promises to create an action plan, announcing the formation of a Diversity Forum and a Diversity, Equity and Belonging Task Force who aim to change hiring practices and increase black representation.
Additionally, several brands decided to tackle racial injustice through monetary support, with donations being made to civil rights organizations and Black-owned businesses. Glossier donated $500,000 to organizations, including Black Lives Matter, The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, The Equal Justice Initiative, The Marsha P. Johnson Institute, and We The Protesters – plus, an additional $500,000 to Black-owned beauty companies. Significant donations were also made by Kering Group, Anastasia Beverly Hills, Huda Beauty and Deciem.
Black artists, creators and models were also called out with promises of getting involved in more campaigns and partnerships, after brands got accused of endorsing racist corporate behaviours. Despite participating in the Pull Up or Shut Up challenge and sharing its statistics, L'Oréal Paris was publicly exposed by Munroe Bergdorf, a Black transgender model who claimed to be dismissed from a makeup campaign for having expressed her stance on white supremacy during the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville.
"We support Munroe's fight against systemic racism, and as a company, we are committed to working to dismantle such systems . . . The L'Oréal Group is forming a UK Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Board of voices inside and outside the company, who will influence and inform our action plan. We all want to contribute to a society in which everyone can live safely, peacefully and equally, and that begins with repairing relationships and moving forward together," wrote L'Oreal Paris Brand President, Delphine Viguier, on the company's Instagram feed.
As June also marks Pride Month, LGBTQ+ communities raised their voices in support to Black Lives Matter. The Internet blew up to the news that the first Pride started as a protest led by people of colour to fight police brutality and oppression to the LGBTQ+ community. The disclosure of this pivotal event not only raised awareness of the racial and gender inequality issue engraved in history but also stimulated brands to take further action. Cruelty-free beauty brand Glow Recipe, along with organic skincare Lesse and Cocokind, demonstrated their allegiance to the Black LGBTQ+ community with donations to the Black Visions Collective, Black Trans Protestors Emergency Fund and Black AIDS Institute.
Now is the time to focus on what matters, not what sells. We are entering an era where brand activism and social involvement values more than product marketing. Consumers feel the necessity to shop from brands that are not afraid to step out of their comfort zone, take responsibility for their mistakes and strive to do better.
To play a role in the buyer's decision process means positively impressing them through uplifting and meaningful content. Nothing can encourage consumers more than to be loyal to a brand who shares the same beliefs, recognizes changing times and fights the same battles.