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Retailers Unite to Mitigate Racially Biased Experiences in Retail Environments

by News Desk

Twenty-eight leading U.S. retailers have signed the Mitigate Racial Bias in Retail Charter, initiated by nonprofit organization Open to All and Sephora. 

The charter seeks to address and reduce racially biased interactions from the shopper experience through the development of resources, education and training for employees in the U.S. retail sector. The goal is to share information openly.

The charter was informed by the Racial Bias in Retail Study, which was commissioned by Sephora and took place from the beginning of the fall of 2019 to the end of 2020. The study found that two in five U.S. retailer shoppers have experienced unfair treatment on the basis of their race or skin tone, and that one in five retail employees have experienced unfair treatment based on their race at their place of work, at the hands of either customers or their coworkers. 

“The study underscored the pervasiveness of unfair treatment of BIPOC shoppers in retail spaces throughout this country,” said Calla Rongerude, director of Open to All, in a statement. “We believe the retail industry should have a zero-tolerance discrimination policy. With the commitments from these companies, we can begin to address the problem, act and start to make shopping more inclusive.”

The 28 U.S. retailers that have signed the charter include: American Eagle Outfitters Inc., the Ascena Retail Group, Ben & Jerry’s, Capri Holdings, CarMax, Crocs, Dick’s, Gap Inc., H&M, J. Crew Group, Levi Strauss & Co., Michaels, Movado Group, Tapestry, Rue 21, Sephora and Zara.

“H&M USA is proud to be a signatory of this very important charter,” said Katja Ahola, U.S. country sales manager of H&M in a statement. “We know as an industry there is still so much work to be done, but this very important step, and the collective work of the signatories will bring us closer to the goal of a more welcoming, safe and inclusive retail experience for all our customers.”

In signing the charter, brands have committed to taking tangible steps toward fostering a more inclusive shopping experience, such as increasing diversity and representation across marketing efforts, providing employee training to address unconscious bias and implementing feedback mechanisms to hear from and better the experiences of BIPOC shoppers.  

DEI consulting firm Mattingly Solutions has developed a two-hour anti-racism training to be shared with all charter members as part of the effort. While only retailers can sign the charter itself, non-retail companies, institutions and nonprofits can support the initiative by taking the Open to All Pledge and supporting the work of participating companies.


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