In a bid to expand its diversity efforts, Ulta on Tuesday signed on to the Fifteen Percent Pledge, a commitment to dedicate 15% of shelf space to Black-owned, Black-founded and Black-led brands, according to a press release emailed to Retail Dive.
The news builds upon Ulta's announcement in February that it would funnel $25 million into various diversity and inclusion commitments, and planned to double Black-owned brands by the end of the year.
"This announcement is huge — and our partnership will have a monumental impact for Black businesses within the beauty industry," Aurora James, founder of the Fifteen Percent Pledge, said in a statement. "As we approach our one-year anniversary, we look forward to building on our momentum, expanding our partnerships and continuing to create opportunities for Black business owners."
The Fifteen Percent Pledge is the next step in Ulta's journey to tackle diversity and inclusion in its assortment and stores. It's a move that fits in well with some of Ulta's previously announced efforts.
In February, the retailer discussed a series of diversity and inclusion initiatives it would be implementing this year, which spanned merchandising, marketing, store experience and employee training. In addition to doubling the number of Black-owned brands in its assortment in 2021, the company also said it would dedicate $4 million to promoting Black-owned brands to help fuel their growth.
The Fifteen Percent Pledge is another commitment to increasing that assortment, though it comes about a year after rival Sephora agreed to take the pledge. (Sephora was the first retailer to sign on to the pledge). Early on this year, Sephora also announced a series of similar commitments to Ulta, including doubling Black-owned brands by the end of the year and establishing new guidelines around diversity in marketing campaigns.
"Creating lasting change and driving equity in the marketplace takes time and actionable focus, and as the country's beauty retail leader, we have a responsibility to inspire greater change across our industry," Monica Arnaudo, chief merchandising officer at Ulta, said in a statement. "We're proud to join the Fifteen Percent Pledge to drive equity across retail and look forward to partnering to amplify underrepresented voices in beauty, increase access to and opportunity for Black-owned brands and of course, grow our ever-evolving assortment to holistically impact change."
Retailers have taken the past year to reevaluate their diversity efforts more broadly as the high-profile killings of several Black people by police sparked nationwide protests. That included not just looking at the assortment in stores but reevaluating executive ranks and forming plans for how to increase diversity at the highest levels. Even beauty, one of the most female-focused categories of retail, struggles with diversity at certain levels.