28 Major U.S. Retailer Brands Form Charter to Improve Retail Environment by Mitigating Racially Biased Experiences
SEPHORA, Gap Inc., CarMax, Ben & Jerry’s amongst industry leaders taking first-of-its-kind national pledge to implement strategies aimed at addressing racially-biased and unfair treatment in retail
May 18, 2022: National nonprofit Open to All today announced that 28 leading U.S. retailer brands signed the Mitigate Racial Bias in Retail Charter committing to take concrete steps to ensure a more welcoming environment for all by reducing racially biased experiences and unfair treatment for shoppers in the retail sector.
The Mitigate Racial Bias in Retail Charter was inspired by the Racial Bias in Retail Study, a groundbreaking national study commissioned by Sephora that explored the ways in which BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) shoppers experience discrimination in retail settings. The report found that two in five U.S. retailer shoppers have personally experienced unfair treatment on the basis of their race or skin tone, and that BIPOC retail shoppers were three times more likely than white shoppers to feel most often judged by their appearance.
Initiated by Open to All and Sephora in 2022, the Mitigate Racial Bias in Retail Charter is a multi-stakeholder collaboration aiming to implement tactics and actions to reduce racially biased interactions from the shopper experience and create an environment that is truly welcoming to all. Open to All and Sephora partnered on this work, with Open to All convening its Inclusive Retail members to apply the study’s findings with the goal of collaboration and collective impact across the retail sector. Starting with the Charter, this growing collaboration also includes the development of resources and education, including training materials and an annual in-person convening.
“The study underscored the pervasiveness of unfair treatment of BIPOC shoppers in retail spaces throughout this country,” said Calla Rongerude, director of Open to All. “We believe the retail industry should have a zero-tolerance discrimination policy. With the commitments from these companies, we can begin to address the problem, act, and start to make shopping more inclusive. Our goal is to create an environment that is truly open to all. We hope companies across the retail sector will join us, sign the Charter, and work together to create meaningful impact and share best practices.”
“At Sephora, diversity, equity, and inclusion have long been core to our mission since our U.S. debut more than 20 years ago – but we recognized that the retail experience has not always been welcoming,” said Jean-André Rougeot, President and CEO, Sephora Americas. “When we first commissioned the Racial Bias in Retail Study in 2019, it was our intent that the findings would serve as useful insights for the entire retail sector, including Sephora. Today, we are proud to have this work resonate in such a deeply impactful way via the Charter, and with the commitment of so many retail signatories, we can collectively work to change the retail experience on a much faster and broader scale. We celebrate those that have joined and encourage others to sign on, as it’s not about perfection, it’s about a commitment to progress for shoppers today and tomorrow.”
By signing the Charter, the retailers acknowledge that racially biased and unfair treatment exists broadly in our society and as such, can impact the retail experience. They have all pledged to design and implement actions that mitigate racial bias from the shopper experience, help foster inclusive shopping experiences for all, and work together to share best practices across the retail industry to drive change.
The ways retailers can support the Charter include:
- Increasing diversity across marketing, products, branding, and the workforce to help prevent exclusionary treatment before shoppers enter a store.
- Providing critical employee training on the experience of shoppers of color to help address the disconnect between how BIPOC shoppers and store employees interpret interactions.
- Creating a feedback mechanism to improve service, and report back on any meaningful actions and progress toward fostering more inclusive experiences for BIPOC shoppers.
This Charter was informed by key findings from Sephora’s Racial Bias in Retail Study, which shed light on what racial bias looks, sounds, and feels like in retail settings—and most importantly, what to do to prevent it from happening in the future. To support the overall effort, a member of the OTA partner group has funded a two-hour anti-racism training to be shared with all Charter members. The training was developed by Mattingly Solutions, a DEI consulting firm focused on workplace inclusion.
“H&M USA is proud to be a signatory of this very important charter,” says Katja Ahola, US Country Sales Manager of H&M. “We know as an industry there is still so much work to be done, but this very important step, and the collective work of the signatories, will bring us closer to the goal of a more welcoming, safe and inclusive retail experience for all our customers.”
The U.S. retailers that have joined the Charter to date are American Eagle Outfitters, Inc. (American Eagle, Aerie), Ascena Retail Group (Ann Taylor, Lane Bryant, LOFT, Lou & Grey), Ben & Jerry’s, Capri Holdings (Michael Kors, Jimmy Choo, Versace), CarMax, Crocs, DICK’S, GAP, Inc., H&M, J. Crew Group, Levi Strauss & Co., Michaels, Movado Group, Tapestry (Coach, Kate Spade, Stuart Weitzman), rue 21, SEPHORA and Zara.
Non-retail companies, institutions, NGO’s and nonprofits can also support the Charter by becoming a supporter of the Charter and taking the Open to All pledge. Those groups are asked to support the work of the retailers and resources through sharing the Charter and socializing best practices.
More information on the Racial Bias in Retail Study, commissioned by Sephora, may be found here.
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Open to All is a nonprofit nondiscrimination program that believes everyone should be welcome regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, immigration status, religion, or disability. www.opentoall.com
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