As the #blacklivesmatter hashtag slowly stops trending online, how are large corporations going to continue to use their power to make an impact toward economic equality for Black businesses in their respective industries? Aurora James—the founder of Brother Vellies, a luxury accessories brand—came up with the 15 Percent Pledge as a response to the many people and businesses alike who have asked the question, What can we do to help?
@wholefoods @target @shopmedmen @walmart @saks @sephora @netaporter @barnesandnoble @homedepot I am asking you to commit to buying 15% of your products from Black owned businesses. . So many of your businesses are built on Black spending power. So many of your stores are set up in Black communities. So many of your sponsored posts are seen on Black feeds. This is the least you can do for us. We represent 15% of the population and we need to represent 15% of your shelf space. . Whole Foods if you were to sign on to this pledge, it could immediately drive much needed support to Black farmers. Banks will be forced to take them seriously because they will be walking in with major purchase orders from Whole Foods. Investors for the very first time will start actively seeking them out. Small businesses can turn into bigger ones. Real investment will start happening in Black businesses which will subsequently be paid forward into our Black communities. . Dont get me wrong, I understand the complexities of this request. I am a business Woman. I have sold millions of dollars of product over the years at a business I started with $3500 at a flea market. So I am telling you we can get this figured out. This is an opportunity. It is your opportunity to get in the right side of this. . So for all of the ‘what can we do to help?’ questions out there, this is my personal answer. #15PercentPledge . I will get texts that this is crazy. I will get phone calls that this is too direct, too big of an ask, too this, too that. But I don’t think it’s too anything, in fact I think it’s just a start. You want to be an ally? This is what I’m asking for.
A post shared by Aurora James 🦢 (@aurorajames) on May 29, 2020 at 5:46pm PDT
The name of the project is derived from the fact that Black Americans make up nearly 15 percent of the U.S. population; the pledge began to go viral after James proposed the idea on her personal Instagram account and directly tagged major retailers such as Target, Sephora, and Whole Foods. When companies sign on to take the pledge, they are promising that at least 15 percent of their shelf space will be devoted to products made by Black-owned businesses, as well as promising transparency to customers about the internal changes happening at their companies.
ELLE Decor is proud to share that West Elm, the Brooklyn-based global design company, is the first in the home-goods sector and one of three companies that have signed on to the 15 Percent Pledge. As part of the pledge, they will commit to:
“Increase West Elm’s design collaborations with Black designers, artists, and Black-owned brands to a minimum of 15% of total”
“Increase the share of Black makers and small businesses within West Elm LOCAL to a 15% minimum”
“Increase the share of Black employees within West Elm’s corporate workforce to a minimum of 15%, as well as strengthening the retail-to-corporate pipeline”
“We are determined to use our purchasing power to create economic empowerment for Black-owned businesses, artists, and designers,” said Alex Bellos, president of West Elm. “We look forward to working with the 15 Percent Pledge to ensure our commitments make an immediate and sustained impact.”
We have more good news to share! We are excited to announce today that @WestElm is taking the #15PercentPledge. West Elm will be the first retailer in the home-goods category to do so and their participation shows impressive leadership in the global design space. West Elm is committing to the #15PercentPledge through brand collaborations, West Elm LOCAL shelf space, and hiring practices. In addition to their 15% benchmark commitment, the brand will be making a multi-year donation pledge to the @15PercentPledge Foundation. We commend West Elm on their commitment to supporting Black-owned businesses and we look forward to working with them to further this mission. ONE MORE DOWN. Who’s next??👀 . #Blackownedbusiness #buyBlack
A post shared by 15 Percent Pledge (@15percentpledge) on Jul 8, 2020 at 12:55pm PDT
You can sign the 15 Percent Pledge petition yourself, to let the retailers you frequent know that you support this pledge. The overall goal: Moving past one-time donations and words of allyship toward taking concrete actions that will benefit the Black community today, tomorrow, and always.
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