Open to All and 42 Leading Retail Brands Commit to #StopRetailRacism
This May, Open to All and 28 leading U.S. retail brands debuted the Mitigate Racial Bias in Retail Charter, a national initiative to address racial bias and discrimination in shopping experiences. This wasn’t just a one-time vow to do better, but a long-term plan rooted in concrete steps to help reduce racially biased experiences and unfair treatment for both employees and shoppers. Born out of quantitative research reflecting a dire need for inclusive shopping experiences, the Charter represents a deeper dedication to establishing a welcoming culture for all shoppers regardless of race.
Today, we’re excited to announce that 42 retail brands have signed the pledge since its inception this spring. The new signatories include industry leaders Cartier, CBL Properties, Ben Bridge Jeweler, Glossier, LVMH, Maurices, URBN (Anthropologie, Free People, Nuuly, and Urban Outfitters), The Body Shop, and supporter Yelp. The Charter unites leaders from these retailers alongside nonprofit civil rights partners to identify needs, gaps, and barriers. Together, we explore opportunities to mitigate racial biases in retail spaces, including loss prevention techniques, diverse product assortments, and inclusive marketing campaigns. Eliminating racial bias requires participation from all levels of the workforce — from the C-suite to the sales floor.
The Charter was inspired by the Racial Bias in Retail Study, a groundbreaking national study commissioned by Sephora that explored how 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 based on 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.
Recognizing the existence of racial bias in retail is merely the beginning of a much larger journey. The Mitigate Racial Bias in Retail Charter serves as a springboard for brands to hold themselves, their shoppers, their staff, and their fellow retailers accountable. By working together to share best practices, we can drive lasting change within the retail industry.
Following the Charter’s debut, Open to All began hosting monthly meetings that serve as a forum for open dialogue amongst signatories and supporters. The monthly curriculum features insight from experts and guest speakers to provide ongoing learning such as the importance of assessing DEI efforts to inform the path forward with Diversity Best Practices. Our monthly meetings also serve as a platform for Charter signatories to share best practices. In September, Sephora’s Vice President of Risk Management shared how their organization modernized its loss prevention strategy, leading to an enhanced client experience and decreased racial bias incidents.
In October, Charter members gathered in San Francisco for Open to All’s Inaugural Convening to exchange best practices and set goals for 2023. In advance of the meeting, members completed a survey to assess their work in the Charter’s key areas of focus:
- 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 experiences 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 any meaningful actions and progress toward fostering more inclusive experiences for BIPOC shoppers.
Our survey found that 44% of respondents signed the Charter to generate a collective impact at the industry level. Others cited improving in-store shopping experiences (28%) as well as learning and sharing best practices (22%) as their primary motivations for joining the collaboration.
In terms of training, 59% of those surveyed reported using or planning to use Open to All’s Reduce Racial Bias in Retail (R3) training. Released in June 2022, the two-hour Reduce Racial Bias in Retail training combines live instruction and self-directed learning to educate staff on what racial bias looks, sounds, and feels like in retail settings. Built for signatories and supporters of Open to All’s Mitigate Racial Bias in Retail Charter, the R3 training equips employees with practical strategies to decrease racial bias incidents and foster inclusive shopping experiences.
Beginning in fall 2023, Open to All will publish an annual report on our work’s impact, including the Charter.
It’s going to take commitments from all of us to end racial bias in retail. Open to All invites and encourages other retail brands to join us, sign the Charter, and commit to doing the work to ensure all shoppers feel included and welcome. Together we can work toward our goal of creating spaces that are truly open to all!
The full list of U.S. retailers and retail companies that have joined the Charter are American Eagle Outfitters, Inc. (American Eagle, Aerie), Ben & Jerry’s, Ben Bridge Jeweler, The Body Shop, Capri Holdings (Versace, Jimmy Choo, Michael Kors), Cartier, CBL Properties, Crocs, DICK’S Sporting Goods, Fresh, GAP, Inc., Glossier, H&M, J. Crew Group, Levi Strauss & Co., LVMH, Maurices, Michaels, Movado Group, Rimowa, Tapestry (Coach, Kate Spade, Stuart Weitzman), rue 21, SEPHORA, URBN (Anthropologie, Free People, Nuuly, Urban Outfitters) 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 supporters, to date, include American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC), Bend the Arc, Benefit Cosmetics, CenterLink, Disability:IN, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), KENDO Brands, Mentor Spaces, Moët Hennessy USA, Muslim Advocates, National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), National CARES Mentoring Movement, Right to Be, The University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing, Travel Unity, Wundher and Yelp.