By JACQUELINE LAUREAN YATES, ABC News(NEW YORK) — Sephora has stepped up as the first retailer to take the “15% Pledge,” vowing to dedicate 15% of its stores’ shelf space to black-owned brands.In an attempt to create radical change toward more shelf space for black-owned brands at mass retailers, Aurora James, a fashion designer and the founder of Brother Vellies, created the 15% Pledge. Sephora accepted the pledge Wednesday.”We recognize how important it is to represent Black businesses and communities, and we must do better,” the company captioned a graphic announcing the news. “So, we’re starting now.”On Instagram, the 15 Percent Pledge account also spread the news about Sephora’s participation: “With unparalleled influence and power, not only in the beauty industry but in retail at large, Sephora is making a historic contribution to the fight against systemic racism and discrimination by taking this Pledge.”The caption continued, “We commend their early leadership and look forward to working with them on their accountability and commitment as we join together in the mission to put billions back into the Black community.”Sephora is fully committing to all three stages of the 15% Pledge, which includes taking stock of the current percentage of shelf space and contracts dedicated to black-owned businesses, taking ownership of all findings, understanding blind spots and disparities, and identifying concrete next steps, as well as taking action to publish and execute a plan for growing the share of black businesses Sephora helps empower to at least 15%.”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,” said Artemis Patrick, the executive vice president and chief merchandising officer of Sephora, in a statement. “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.”To make sure the black-owned brands that will now be available at Sephora are heavily supported, the company is examining all areas of its business — starting with bringing all of its knowledge to the table freely, so aspiring founders have access.Additionally, the company will be providing connections to and support from funders and the venture capitalist community as well as helping launch and develop black-owned businesses with support for long-term success.The popular beauty haven will use its internal incubation program Accelerate, which is dedicated to cultivating female founders, to now focus on women of color.In addition to Sephora, the 15% Pledge has also called on several other retailers, such as Target, Whole Foods and Shopbop, to dedicate space for black-owned brands.The campaign also has called on everyone to sign a petition that encourages further support.
“Black businesses need your support today, tomorrow, always,” it reads on their website.Sephora’s latest initiative comes after also announcing that the company extended perks of its loyalty program so members can now donate rewards earned to the National Black Justice Coalition.Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.