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Beauty brands should share their Black employee numbers, says Uoma founder

TextAlex Peters

The #PullUpOrShutUp Challenge is holding brands accountable for their Black solidarity social media posts

People around the world are having conversations around systemic racism and taking to the streets to protest white supremacy and police brutality, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by a white police officer. At the same time, many businesses, including those in the beauty industry, have been releasing statements and pledging donations in solidarity with the Black community.

However, as we have been increasingly seeing, many of these brands don’t act on the solidarity they are performing on social media. Words are not enough – it is because of this that Sharon Chuter, founder of Uoma Beauty, has started the #PullUpOrShutUp challenge.

This grassroots campaign calls on beauty brands to be transparent about the number of Black people they have in corporate and leadership positions within their company with the aim of holding these brands accountable for their solidarity and bringing awareness to the lack of Black people in these roles. 

In a video posted to Instagram, Chuter thanks brands and corporations for publicly showing support for the Black Lives Matter movements. However, she says, that alone is not good enough. “To – at this point – still be absolving yourself for the role that you have played and continue to play in the marginalisation and the oppression of Black people shows that a lot of these efforts may just be PR stunts,” she says. “You cannot say ‘Black lives matter’ publicly when you don’t show us Black lives matter within your own homes and within your organisations.” 

Chuter is asking these companies over the next 72 hours to release the number of black people they have employed in corporate roles as well as leadership roles and she is calling on us to support her on this and not purchase anything until these demands are met and figures are released. “Vote with your wallets,” she writes.

In the video, Chuter also explains how Black people only make up eight percent of corporate roles, three percent of management roles, and when it comes to CEO positions, there are only four Black CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. “These corporations who are the gatekeepers of jobs have starved us for the longest time,” she says. “They’ve pushed us out and they’ve marginalised us and they’ve oppressed us by doing nothing and staying silent which is exactly what is happening even in this moment.”

The beauty veteran, who worked with some of the biggest companies in the industry including at LVMH as head of corporations for Benefit, has seen first hand the lack of diversity within these companies and it was the dissatisfaction of working to build brands that didn’t care for or cater to her as a Black woman that led her to found her own brand. “I was working with companies and I couldn't use 85 per cent of the products,” she previously told Dazed Beauty. “I understood the impact that has on people. Even for me sitting there, it’s only a while before you think something is wrong with you. Why can’t I use those products?”

To find out which beauty brands have been donating and speaking out about Black Lives Matter and the protests, read our running list here.

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