The immediate reaction of many beauty brands to the Black Lives Matter protests in our country consisted of social media posts and public announcements that stated support for the protesters. Since then, however, a lot of brands have made more significant statements and even changed how they operate.
One brand in particular, Uoma Beauty, founded by Sharon Chuter, saw the issues with race within the beauty industry and set out to make change. Chuter started the Pull Up For Change campaign, which calls for beauty companies to publicize the percentage of their employees who are people of color. Some of the companies that shared these percentages included Coty, Estée Lauder and Revlon Inc. A few of these big name companies reported percentages of as low as three percent for leadership positions.
Aurora James, founder of Brother Vellies, had a similar approach to the issue. James started the 15 Percent Pledge, which urges major retailers to devote 15 percent of their shelf space to Black-owned brands. Big brands such as Sephora, Indigo and Violet Grey signed the pledge.
Estée Lauder also made changes after its employees revolted against the company’s response to the protests. The workers called for the removal from the board of directors of Ronald Lauder, who is a Republican and mega-donor for former President Donald Trump. The employees argued that Lauder’s role in the company negatively affected its race relations. The company did not remove Lauder from his seat on the board, but it did agree to donate $1 million to advocate for racial equality and justice.
Many brands have since followed in the footsteps of Aurora James and Sharon Chuter, including Glossier, which donated $500,000 to nonprofit organizations fighting racial inequalities, and another $500,000 in grants to Black beauty entrepreneurs. Additionally, e.l.f Cosmetics donated $25,000 to Color of Change, an organization combating racial injustices, and Sunday Riley gave $50,000 to the NAACP for their Legal Defense and Education Fund.
The Black Lives Matter protests that began in our country in May after George Floyd was killed sparked a time of reflection for those within the beauty industry. Many brands have started campaigns, adjusted policies, hired new workers, created new products and donated money with the goal of diversitizing their brands and helping combat racial injustices. These changes are steps in the right direction, but they only mark the beginning of the fight for equality within the beauty industry.