Nearly 30 Major US Retailers Pledge to Reduce Racial Bias
Twenty-eight leading U.S. retail brands from 17 companies have signed on to a charter committing to take concrete steps to reduce racially biased experiences and unfair treatment of shoppers in the retail sector. Retailers such as American Eagle Outfitters, Ann Taylor, Athleta, Crocs, H&M, J.Crew, LOFT, Old Navy, Michael Kors, Sephora, Ben & Jerry's, and Levi Strauss & Co. signed the charter, created by the national nonprofit Open to All, on Wednesday.
By signing the charter, the retailers acknowledge that racially biased and unfair treatment exists broadly in society and can impact the retail experience. Their pledge includes a promise to design and implement actions that mitigate racial bias for shoppers, help foster inclusive shopping experiences, and work with other retailers to share best practices and drive change.
Open to All said some ways retailers can take action include increasing diversity across marketing, products, branding and the workforce; providing employee training on the experience of shoppers of color; and creating a feedback mechanism to improve service. The charter signatories will undergo a two-hour anti-racism training developed by Mattingly Solutions, a DEI consulting firm focused on workplace inclusion.
Total Retail's Take: The announcement of leading U.S.-based retailers coming together to reduce racial bias comes days after a teenage gunman opened fire in a Buffalo-area grocery store located in a Black community, killing 10 people, in what police say was a racially motivated attack. The charter follows the Racial Bias in Retail Study commissioned by Sephora in 2019, which found that three in five retail shoppers experienced discriminatory treatment, and two in five shoppers have personally experienced unfair treatment on the basis of their race or skin color.
The charter signatories have done well in signaling their intentions to reduce racial bias in their stores as well as within their organizations. However, the real mark of progress and ultimately success will be in what actions the companies take as a result of this declaration, and what changes come for shoppers.