If you’re Black, it’s no secret that most beauty brands think of your skin tone as an afterthought. I remember growing up and knowing that the only brands that catered to Black skin tones were M.A.C, Fashion Fair, and Iman. But after Fenty’s game-changing 45+ foundation shade release, brands saw the cultural (and let’s be real, the financial) impact that the Black community has on the beauty industry as a whole. I remember when all these brands, who never once released a shade darker than “natural beige,” all of a sudden started to improve their shade ranges. It came off as completely disingenuous to me, but hey, at least some brands were trying.
I remember when all these brands, who never once released a shade darker than “natural beige,” all of a sudden started to improve their shade ranges.
And now, with the murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Aubrey, and many other Black people at the hands of cops and racists, and the subsequent revival of the Black Lives Matter movement, companies have been posting their support for Black lives and vowing to change. But Sharon Chuter, founder of UOMA Beauty, put the pressure on these companies by telling them to #PullUpOrShutUp—by releasing the data of exactly how many Black employees work at the companies in regular and in leadership positions. In an Instagram post made on June 3, Chuter wrote, “Your favourite brands are making bold PR statements about their support for the black community. Please ask them how many black employees they have in their organization (HQ and satellite offices ONLY) and how many black people they have in leadership roles. For the next 72 hours DO NOT purchase from any brand and demand they release these figures. Ask them to PULL UP or SHUT UP.”
As a result, many major and small businesses have been publishing their employee data, which Chuter has been publishing on the Instagram page Pull Up For Change. And let me tell you, the results are illuminating. Peach and Lily has 7% Black representation, Curology has 6%, and BH Cosmetics, who has collaborations with Black beauty influencer It’s My Raye Raye, has zero Black employees, which is absolutely astounding. Some brands fare a little bit better—Devacurl has 19% employees, with 8% in leadership positions, Kosas is 18% Black, while the Esteé Lauder companies have a dismal 12% across all of their many, many, MANY, brands.
And this is why the Pull Up Or Shut Up challenge is so important. It’s not enough that brands are donating money, or posting a black square, or making (empty) platitudes. How can you claim that Black Lives Matter when you’re not even employing them? How can you promote diversity when a majority of company employees do not come from diverse backgrounds? I’m thankful that Sharon has encouraged these brands to be forthcoming with their diversity statistics and cause the ones that aren’t stepping up to the plate to do the right thing.