Major retailer Zara is now among the list of retailers accused of racially profiling Black shoppers.
According to Refinery 29, a survey conducted by the Center for Popular Democracy suggests that discrimination may be taught as a part of the Spanish retailer’s training program.
The survey compiled the responses of Zara employees who were approached while on break to answer questions about the company’s culture. Although there were many disturbing findings of the survey, the term “special order” may be among the most unnerving.
The report says that “special order” is a code phrase used to alert other workers to a customer who may be a potential shoplifting threat. Of the 57% who responded, 47% said that Black customers were always labeled as “special order” and 36.4% of the participants agreed that Black shoppers were more likely to be labeled as possible shoplifters. Employees surveyed in the report also said that “special orders” were defined as “anyone who looks Black, not put together, or urban,” and are identified as “dressing a certain way” and “mostly African-American.”
Zara denies that meaning. “The expression “special order” is an internal term used to designate a common situation in which associates are requested to enforce customer service and zone coverage on the floor. It does not designate a person or group of people of any category,” said a company spokesperson. The retailer refuted the claims of the survey via Twitter saying the Center for Popular Democracy made no attempts to contact the company. They maintained that “diversity and equal opportunity are indeed two of the company’s core values,” and the company “does not tolerate discrimination of any form.”
When it comes to racial profiling by some of our favorite retailers, where do you stand? Do you stop shopping as soon as there’s even a word of unfair treatment or do you keep shopping and let the situation play out?