Brands and retailers including Vogue, West Elm and Sephora are taking up the 15 Percent Pledge, which commits them to dedicating 15% of their shelf space to Black-owned businesses

The 15 Percent Pledge was created by Aurora James, the founder and creative director of the shoe and handbag company, Brother Vellies to increase equity in retail. Since Black people make up almost 15% of the United States population, the organization points out, brands and businesses should adjust their inventory to be more representative of the populations they serve.

The pledge, if taken as part of a broader plan to address a company's participation in racist power structures, would be a valuable step for companies to address their part in perpetuating the racial wage gap.

The pledge's site points out that the gap is especially clear in the pandemic: over 40% of Black business owners reported that the crisis had put them out of work by April, versus only 17% of white business owners. Similarly, Black-owned businesses were more than four times likelier than their white-owned counterparts to say they didn't expect to survive the pandemic.

Of course, buying is a two-way street. The organization also offers a consumer pledge: “Step 1: Take Inventory (of your own spending power)…Step 2: Buy Black (at least 15% of your monthly spending)…Step 3: Donate if you can ($15 a month goes a long way).”

The PSFK team highlighted the 15 Percent Pledge in our research paper on Empathetic Retail. Find out about accessing the full research here.

15 Percent Pledge