Can you believe it took the death of George Floyd for brands to want to be more inclusive?
But hey, I guess we are here, or are we?
Companies have started to realise the importance of equal representation and have finally seen just how little diversity there is within their establishment. A lot, which is a fantastic step forward, have pledged to change and be more inclusive, but then there are also too many who don't see a problem or are a part of the problem.
Do you ever wonder why when shopping for brands there is a very sad lack of representation of ethnic minorities? Well according to a report that was conducted in 2017 by Lloyd's Banking Group, only 25% of adverts featured Black, Asian and minority groups with them being the main protagonist in only 7% of the adverts.
A group of people who have been failed by the beauty industry in terms of representation still spend nine times more than white people on hair and beauty products. Yep, African Americans spent $465 million on skincare alone in 2017!
Why are we so under represented when it comes to beauty even though we invest quite a lot in the industry? Is it because people still believe that we don't meet the beauty standards? Is it down to a lack of research? Is it because it's so normal to see a certain demographic?
A few weeks ago many Instagram accounts had posted a Black Square representing Black Out Tuesday to show solidarity to anti-racism. If I'm being completely honest with you, I was barely moved. I was happy that so many wanted to show solidarity but it's more than just a hashtag, this is peoples lives that are being affected. Posting a Black Square would mean so much more if the companies were willing to make internal changes - and some did!
However, some just posted the square and that was it.
After speaking with a fellow skincare specialist, I teamed with Neeka of Skin.nv (www.skin-nv.co.uk) in which we contacted brands to ask if their solidarity was really, really, real or whether it was just to keep people quiet.
We reached out to 11 companies. We presented them with the figures of what black women contribute to the beauty and skincare industry and questioned why there was a lack of representation in marketing. We also asked whether they were planning on making internal changes in regards to diversifying their establishment and how. 64% posted support on Instagram, 45% replied back to our queries, 27% supported and replied but 90% of the replies were disappointing. It showed the lack of understanding and knowledge they had about what was really going on.
I'm not sure whether they are comfortable with excluding ethnic minorities from their advertising campaigns or they're uncomfortable with having the conversation of "we need to do better".
All I wanted to read in a heart felt reply was "we have acknowledge your concerns, we are working to address them but if you have any ways to support us because it's something we have little knowledge on, we would appreciate it." I was looking for acknowledgment, accountability and the want for change. Instead, I received an email basically saying "if therapists don't send us images of Black models then we won't seek them".
I do believe that the lack of representation is down to a lack of diversity with staff. Ethnic minorities would be represented correctly and a lot more if companies listened to their workers. These changes need to start within.
I had one brand, which was a lash brand, listen up and made active changes with big future plans - which I'm here for. However, it was clear that so many beauty brands see Black Lives Matter as a trend to follow to keep people happy. To them we are consumers, but what happens when consumers take their money and invest it else where? I have discovered Black owned skincare brands who I think everyone of all colours and walks should support!
LIKE IT ON TOP
NATURE SERIES SKINCARE
THE GLOWCERY SHOP
A COMPLEXION COMPANY
BROWN ANGEL NATURALS
CARE BY JORDS
Sometimes it takes a negative for a positive to happen. It kills me that it's at the death of someone's loved one but this is why we can never forget this movement. As a result of BLM, I have seen a growing support from many who want to invest in black businesses and I only hope that this stays consistent.
The movement is a slow and long journey but it will take a clear and clean conscience so that changes can be made. In order to see growth people need to educate themselves on the uncomfortable so they can understand what the movement stands for.
The beauty industry is one of the most influential industries in the world, it has the power to make change. I will not stop until these brands #RepresentOurBeauty.