The beauty industry is working towars being considered to be a space of freedom, inclusivity and equality. Since the recent events have shocked the nations into action, the industry has come together to deliver an uplifting change. In order to keep the momentum going, we need to address the concerns head on, face ugly truths, and be bold in pushing for change.
The world has spoken and its cry for change has opened the eyes of many regarding racism and discrimination against the Black community. Within this reach for solidarity, beauty brands have rallied together to show their support, donate, raise awareness and declare the changes that need to be made from the inside out. An example of support is Glossier’s CEO Emily Weiss, who stated the company would be donating $500k across organizations focused on combatting racial injustice, and also who has also committed to allocating an additional $500k in the form of grants to black-owned beauty businesses.
Brands such as Anastasia Beverley Hills ($1 million dollars), Colourpop ($500,000), Honest Beauty ($100,00), Biossance ($100,000) and others alike have all actively come forward and contributed to causes that help the Black community directly.
However, while brands are coming together to show solidarity with Black Lives Matter, the Black community has also come together to hold these brands accountable to their messages and actions. Sharon Chuter, founder of Uoma Beauty, created Pull Up for Change, a direct-action movement that requests brands “to publicly release within the next 72 hours the number of black employees they have in their organizations … You all have statements and policies about equal opportunity employers, so show us the proof.” In the response to this call for transparency, many brands have come forward to share their numbers and open their books on diversity.
Milk Makeup shared that with 45 team members only 4 employees are black with no black team members at executive levels. Glossier stated that they don’t have any black colleagues in leadership positions and L’Oréal identified only 9% Black employees, with 7% in the head office and 8% in execute roles. What this transparency states is the dedication that is needed from many cult beauty brands to change their infrastructure for a permanent change within the industry.
So, where does that leave us today and moving forward? The answer is simple: invest and support. Makeup artist Camara Aunique, who has worked with Angela Bassett, Ava Duvernay and many others states, “If you love Black beauty, support us by booking us to represent your brand and book us to lead your shoots.” The beauty industry must Invest in Black beauty brands, Black creators, influencers and industry professionals—the fight for change starts now. In six months, one year or two years from now, the same support and solidarity will be needed in order to spur real change.
There are a multitude of Black-owned beauty brands that need your support. Lesley Thornton, founder of skincare line Klur, highlighted this on her Instagram with this explanation: “Black people are less likely to have access to capital to fund their businesses, so it’s critical non-POC support them because there purchases can make a major impact on the potential growth.”
Going further in the world’s efforts for a permanent change, it is important that our key drugstore and luxury retailers invest and buy into Black businesses. Encouraging the representation ofmore Black businesses on the shelves, Brother Vellies founder Aurora James issued a call for leading corporations to pledge that at least 15% of their products sold come from black-owned businesses. Targeting influential accounts such as Net-A-Porter and Sephora, the 15 Percent Pledge non-profit organization has now been formed to shed the light on Black companies often being overlooked.
Another way to support the black community going forward is for brands to respectfully, enthusiastically and authentically work with black influencers, content creators, writers, videographers, industry specialists and consultants. U.K.-based model and content creator Natasha Ndlovu tells Byrdie, “Brands need to make it a must that they seek out a diverse group of content creators to share on a regular basis—not just for Black History Month or when they finally expand their shade range.” For the world to believe a brand’s message of solidarity and support, the brand first needs to have a conversation around the table and ask the questions: How diverse are we? Who are the people we work with and showcase? Do we treat our talent pool fairly in terms of rights and payments? “As we speak, a makeup brand emailed me to work with them on a product launching in July and they are notorious for not having a diverse feed,” Ndlovu continues. ”
As a Black content creator, I want a guarantee—in the form of a legal contract—that states their long-term plan with me, I don’t want to waste my talent and skill promoting a brand that has no interest in having a Black woman work with them on a long-term basis.”
Beyond prioritizing Black creators in front of the camera, the industry needs shaking up behind the scenes as well. The world needs to see more BIPOC photographing magazine cover shoots, creating the looks behind leading editorials, and styling the hair of major supermodels—and not to just hire Black artists and stylists when shooting Black talent, but rather making it a priority to hire them for all types of shoots. Kendall Dorsey, a hairstylist with over 10 years of experience in the beauty industry who frequently works with the likes of Yara Shahidi, Solange, and Lizzo, says, “In the past, I have competed against a white hairstylist [who has done over eight] Vogue covers and [though] my experience shows extensive knowledge on how to execute braids and cornrows, [the] eight Vogue covers was always [prioritized] my experience.” He continue further, stating that the industry is missing out on discovering new talented artists because “we are told constantly that we aren’t qualified enough and the matter of fact is that we are, we have been craftsmen for years, it’s time the mold was changed.”
For the beauty industry to truly change, we must take the purposeful steps to look inwards, make permanent changes in our beliefs and structuress, and include the Black community on the main stage.