Open to All and Leading Retailers Commit to #StopRetailRacism
A recent study on racial bias in retail confirmed what many of us already knew: BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) shoppers regularly feel unwelcome in retail spaces, and high percentages of people of color report discrimination while shopping.
The research, commissioned by Sephora, a member of Open to All’s Leadership Circle, offered a timely and much-needed awareness of the bias experienced in retail spaces. And it led many businesses to pledge to do more.
This was a rallying cry for Open to All. Last year, we debuted our Inclusive Retail initiative, working with our retail partners to create resources, training materials, and sample policies to ensure everyone is welcome. Addressing racial bias in retail is a natural progression of our Inclusive Retail work. We feel a duty to act and develop a set of tools we can use to collaborate with retailers, supporters, and nonprofit partners nationwide — and do the work to ensure a welcoming culture for all shoppers regardless of their race.
So, we’re excited to announce our latest effort, the Mitigate Racial Bias in Retail Charter. To date, 28 retail brands have signed this national pledge to address racial bias and discrimination in retail. These aren’t just promises; we have an action plan.
Creating safe and welcoming retail environments speaks to the heart of our core values at Open to All. As a national nondiscrimination campaign dedicated to building a country where everyone feels safe and respected, we are committed to working with thought partners to create tools and share resources that will benefit all businesses across the retail sector. We will continue to drive a movement based on the shared values of being open to all.
The Charter is recognition that racial bias and unfair treatment exist broadly in our society and impact the shopping experience. The Charter commitment is to implement tactics and actions that can mitigate racial biases in retail spaces. Signing is just the first step. We will hold ourselves accountable and learn from one another to make change.
Charter signatories commit to deploying a training curriculum that creates awareness around racial bias, designing and implementing concrete actions that mitigate racial bias from the shopper experience, evaluating results and holding themselves accountable, and working together to share best practices across the retail industry to drive change.
The Charter was inspired by that groundbreaking Sephora study outlining the many ways BIPOC shoppers experience discrimination in the retail industry. It highlighted the persuasiveness of unfair treatment in retail space and underscored the need to continue to push for a zero-tolerance discrimination policy.
The 2021 Sephora Racial Bias in Retail Study found that a majority of U.S. shoppers have had personal experience with bias and unfair treatment. Two out of five BIPOC shoppers said they have experienced poor treatment due to race or ethnicity, and Black shoppers were three times more likely to feel judged based on the color of their skin.
The study not only called attention to the inequities of the shopping experience but provided a research-driven understanding of how the retail industry can become more inclusive. Discrimination makes people feel unwelcome and impacts one’s sense of dignity. It’s also bad for business. We’re providing actionable solutions to galvanize change.
Change isn’t easy, but these businesses are leading by example and taking the necessary steps to make a difference with this movement. That includes increasing diversity across marketing, products, branding, and the workforce to help prevent exclusionary treatment before shoppers enter a store. The retailers will also provide training for employees on the retail experience of shoppers of color to help address the disconnect between how BIPOC shoppers and store employees interpret interactions. To support the overall effort, a corporate member of Open to All funded a two-hour anti-racism training to be shared with all Charter members later this month. The training was developed by Mattingly Solutions, a DEI consulting firm focused on workplace inclusion.
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, GAP, Inc. (Athleta, Banana Republic, Gap, Old Navy), H&M, J. Crew Group, Levi Strauss & Co., Michaels, Movado Group, Tapestry (Coach, Kate Spade, Stuart Weitzman), rue 21, and SEPHORA.
With the commitments from these companies, we’re breaking ground on a movement to act and make shopping more inclusive. We will continue to develop training materials and hold an annual in-person convening, where Charter businesses can offer input, share best practices, and learn from one another.
We encourage other retailers to join us, sign the Charter, and commit to doing the work to make sure all shoppers feel included and welcome. Together we can work toward our goal of creating spaces that are truly open to all.