15 PERCENT PLEDGE 2 iotd-04

08 June 2020

The US-based 15 Percent Pledge, urging retailers to ensure that 15% of the products they offer are from black-owned businesses, launched this month. Aurora James, founder of luxury fashion line Brother Vellies, created the movement; in her words, “We represent 15% of the population and we need to represent 15% of your shelf space.” The goal is to help black-owned small businesses grow, and it’s estimated that widespread implementation of the pledge could raise USD 14.5 billion for black communities. James directly addressed nine major retailers on social – including Sephora, Whole Foods, The Home Depot, Net-a-Porter and Target – and implored them to participate, as these companies frequently market to black consumers and depend on black spending power.

We don’t need to tell you how timely this is, as George Floyd’s violent death prompts brands – certainly many of you reading this right now – to stand in solidarity with black Americans.

If you’re planning to post a black square on social (more on performative wokeness here), take a moment. Review some facts first: Black households earn less than 60% of white ones. The median net worth for white families is 10 times that of black families. Unemployment rates due to COVID-19 are at least 2 percentage points higher for black Americans.

So rather than stand in solidarity, MOVE in solidarity. The 15 Percent Pledge makes it exceedingly clear how brands can do just that: Close these striking financial gaps and get money into the pockets of black citizens. Take it from a black business owner like Aurora James, who understands acutely what black businesses need. And just to quickly acknowledge: There are plenty of outlets publishing lists of black-owned brands out there (in fashion, in food, in wellness and countless other categories), encouraging consumers to use their dollars to offer support. Which is great!

However, if you represent a corporate giant, you have far more power than a single consumer. The 15 Percent Pledge underlined the billions that just nine retailers, together, could funnel towards black communities. Now, maybe you don’t run a retail business. Maybe you don’t have shelf space to give. But consumers are still expecting you to answer this question: What does tangible support look like in my industry?

Stay healthy,

The TrendWatching content team