Last week, UOMA Beauty Founder and CEO Sharon Chuter charged beauty brands to “pull up” and show the number of Black corporate employees and leadership at their companies. As we could expect, followers of her #PutUpOrShutUp challenge instantly began to call out brands on the Pull Up For Change campaign Instagram page. And over the weekend, beauty brands began to come forward with those numbers, confirming what many of us already knew—there’s a lot of work to be done.
To say that diversity is lacking in the beauty industry is like saying COVID-19 is just a flu. Some brands revealed having as little as two and three percent Black corporate employees with none in leadership positions.
The revelations brought up conversations about many topics, including the exclusion of Black women from the feminist movement.
When NuFACE, a brand that specializes in at-home beauty devices, revealed that it only has 2 percent Black representation across the company with no people of color on its executive team, followers of the Pull Up For Change account had much to say. They were especially frustrated with the brand’s insistence on identifying how many employees and executives were women.
“This is why it’s hard for black women to support feminism as a whole,” said one commenter. “The sole and initial purpose if it did not regard black women at all and a lot of white women dominate it today. Intersectionality is a big problem. Either way, idk this company and they won’t be getting my money.”
“I’m noticing how they emphasize the female representation as if that will somehow be equivalent to black,” wrote another commenter.
Another follower added, “The high percentages of ‘POC’ I keep seeing vs how much of that percentage is actually black is really confusing.”
We noticed that stark difference as well.
While many companies like to pride themselves on diversity as it pertains to employees “who identify as a person of color” and their high number of women executives, it’s clear that hiring Black leadership has not been a priority. The #PullUpOrShutUp challenge forces brands to specifically identify Black employees versus grouping them into all employees of color, revealing how few Black people they hire in those corporate and leadership roles.
And while the Pull Up For Change initiative strives to be a resource to help these organizations make deep systemic changes, followers on social media are calling for receipts.
“Transparency is cool but I want to see targets attached,” one person wrote in response to a post revealing Anastasia Beverly Hills’ numbers. “What’s their target black representation and when will they achieve it by?”
Other brands such as Revlon, tarte, Glossier, and Milani were criticized for their lack of Black representation, while Natasha Denona, NYX Cosmetics, Ulta Beauty, and mented—a Black-owned brand which has an 100 percent Black employee base and 75 percent Black board—were praised.
Consumers made it clear that vague responses would not be accepted, nor would conglomerates grouping numbers across their brands. And many praised the campaign’s results, requesting for the same call-to-action to be made across other industries, namely fashion.
“It takes a lot of courage to self-reflect and I love that a lot of brands saw that it was much needed,” Chuter said in an IGTV post. “To look in their organizations with a very different lens than brands usually look a things, and implement lasting changes, that’s going to have an enormous impact on Black lives and the Black community in general.”
She also explained that every two days the campaign will call out eight brands who have not pulled up, to ensure that they are aware of the campaign, and to will them into transparency.
It will be interesting to see how the brands transform this information into action, and what that timeline for change looks like.