A variety of major brands chose to support the Black Lives Matter movement with public statements of solidarity. Though a hand full of companies did not speak up in this manner, they did participate in #BlackoutTuesday. In response to protests sweeping the nation following George Floyd’s death, #BlackoutTuesday paused business as usual across multiple industries. Unimpressed by brands’ social media efforts, beauty influencer Jackie Aina joined UOMA Beauty founder, Sharon Chuter, to call for transparency.
Pull Up or Shut Up
The YouTube star announced the #pulluporshutup campaign via Instagram last week to hold major beauty brands accountable. Jackie challenged brands to reveal their number of Black employees at a corporate and executive level within 72 hours. She also encouraged supporters to refrain from purchasing from any brands within that timeframe and demand they release these figures. “Ask them to PULL UP for real change or SHUT UP and retract their statements of support,” Aina said in her video.
Some of the most popular beauty brands including Sephora and Glossier did, in fact, pull up but with disappointingly low numbers. Jackie shared her sentiments during her Instagram story update, “I just feel like at this point everybody’s canceled. I think it highlighted a lot of things that we knew about the beauty community, but we couldn’t really confirm.” Though the 72-hour period has expired, the Pull Up for Change official Instagram page continues to reveal these alarming statistics. Supporters of the initiative have tagged brands from all industries to reveal their numbers.
What Does Change Look Like?
Some of the biggest brands pledging solidarity with the Black community regularly struggle to recruit, maintain, and promote minorities within their organizations. On average, Black employees account for less than 20 percent of the overall workforce and less than 10 percent occupy management roles. The #pulluporshutup campaign is a wake-up call for many companies who’ve failed to recognize their own contributions to racial inequality. The lack of diversity at corporate and executive levels deprives Black people of opportunities and demonstrates to the Black consumer that their voice only matters at the base level.
Creating lasting change involves these companies admitting their faults and working on much more than PR statements. Some brands have already vowed to increase their number of Black employees and actively invest in communities of color. Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, addressed the issue stating the company “must change first” if it wants to help change the world. The company announced it will expand its connections with HBCUs to invest in its talent pipeline. Adidas also vowed to stand on solidarity by filling 30 percent of its vacancies with Black and Latinx candidates. Additional efforts include investing $20 million in Black communities and financing scholarships for Black students at partnering schools.
An increasing number of brands have gotten on-board with the campaign, but there’s still more work to be done. Increasing the number of Black faces in the room means taking on the responsibility of acknowledging Black voices. This means addressing microaggressions, pay gaps, promotional opportunities, and so forth. The entire workplace culture must shift and continuing to hold these brands accountable can achieve that.