As Black History Month begins and brands look for ways to support that community, Ulta on Tuesday announced over $25 million of commitments to diversity and inclusion. The company also appointed celebrity and Pattern Beauty CEO and founder Tracee Ellis Ross as diversity and inclusion advisor.
Commitments span marketing, merchandising, store experience and employee training, according to a press release. Ulta intends to double the amount spent on media investments across endemic and multicultural platforms to $20 million and double the number of Black-owned brands in its assortment by the end of the year.
An additional $4 million will be dedicated to promoting Black-owned brands, while $2 million will go toward quarterly in-store inclusivity and unconscious bias training for store associates. The retailer will also introduce a mandatory second version of its Race Matters Leadership Training for all field, distribution and corporate associates.
After a tumultuous year defined by protests against systemic racism, sparked by several high-profile killings of Black people by police, retailers are turning once again to their commitments to the Black community during Black History Month.
Ulta's commitments, which span multiple departments, mirror rival Sephora's, which were announced last month in conjunction with the results of a racial bias in retail study the company had commissioned. Like Sephora, Ulta plans to double its assortment of Black-owned brands by the end of the year, and both retailers announced commitments for more marketing support for Black-owned brands specifically.
Part of Ulta's marketing plan includes a platform dubbed MUSE (magnify, uplift, support, empower), which amplifies Black voices in beauty. The campaign has marquee placements on "The Today Show," "Good Morning America" and "This is Us," according to the retailer. Forming more personal connections with Latinx, Black and other communities is also top of mind for Ulta.
Again similarly to Sephora, Ulta has brought on a well-known name to help inform its D&I strategy in Ross. She will "provide counsel and insight, and drive accountability to Ulta Beauty with a specific focus on BIPOC brand development, diverse leadership development and supplier diversity," according to the company. Ross will also be a part of executive D&I council summits quarterly to review progress, gaps and opportunities.
The retailer plans to share updates on its progress and will include diversity and inclusion as part of its annual performance reviews for employees. In addition to increased D&I training, Ulta launched inclusive recruiting efforts and also introduced a Diverse Leaders Program, which identified 30 high-potential associates to receive CEO and executive mentorship.
The retailer touted its commitments as "tangible efforts" to further its work on diversity and inclusion, an aspect many retailers received criticism for not producing in the immediate aftermath of protests over the summer.
"As the country's beauty retail leader, we believe we have the power to shape how the world sees beauty and as such, we have a responsibility to inspire positive change and drive greater diversity, inclusivity and equity," Ulta CEO Mary Dillon said in a statement.