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Glossier renews Black-owned business grant program for second year

There is no shortage of Black owned brands within the beauty industry. However, funding for these businesses is severely lacking. Glossier is supporting Black entrepreneurs at the pre-launch, start-up, and growth stages of their beauty business venture.

Last summer, the rapid resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement prompted companies to re-assess the value system and level of racial diversity within their practices.

Most of us watched from our Instagram timelines as brands rushed to post lengthy statements and graphics in solidarity with the cause.

In light of this, many questioned whether this action was genuine or whether it was simply a case of performance activism on the part of large corporations. Often the companies involved previously practiced little in terms of establishing a broad and inclusive range of employees.

Without long term solutions or direct plans to shake up those occupying key roles in company structures, voicing support for social movements in this way can look somewhat like a bandwagon PR campaign.

A handful of companies, however, have put their commitment statements into action and developed strong plans to help bridge the gap of racial inequality in the business world.

Glossier is one such brand who is standing out with their dedication to the cause. Its initial grant of $500k to US organisations standing up to systemic inequality was followed by a $500k grant program, split amongst 16 Black American entrepreneurs who have developed beauty lines selling tools and products for face, body, and hair.

Candidates who apply for the grant are assessed on their brand stories, current business plans, future vision for the beauty industry, and their take on the role of beauty in our lives.

Once selected, Glossier also offers practical support, with six months of business guidance and 1-to-1 consultancy with experienced professionals in the sector.

It has recently announced that the program is returning for a second year, with applications now open. The program is expected to continue for the rest of the decade as Glossier has committed to spending a total of $10 million for the cause.

The evidence warranting stronger support for Black owned businesses has never been more apparent. In 2019, Black women received less than 1% of venture capital funding that women received, which dropped from 2.8 to 2.3 percent in 2020.

This is despite the fact that Black female businesswomen make up the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the US, with an overall increase in market presence of 322% since the late 90s.

Glossier is not alone in advocating for Black owned businesses. Others have made substantial promises to increase diversity in hiring processes, as well as to develop a stronger sense of inclusivity amongst employees.

Another joining the allegiance is Sephora, who was amongst the first brands to take the 15 Percent Pledge, reserving fifteen percent of their shelf space for Black owned businesses.

Shutting its physical stores for two hours, Sephora devoted time to training and educating its retail staff on the issue of racial profiling while working on the shop floor, using support from both quantitative and qualitative data research.

The beauty retailer has been praised for tackling issues of racism not just through increasing diversity, but by also hiring external advisors to advise on issues related to racial equity and inclusion.

Because of this all-sides approach, Sephora was recognised for awards in both Europe and America – ranking third in the Leader in Diversity retail awards as well as securing a place on America’s Best Employers for Diversity list.

It remains of utmost importance for companies to provide hiring, training, and leadership opportunities to welcome diversity within their companies.

While one-off donations from successful companies are helpful, industry plans incorporating a sense of longevity through strategies implemented from the top down are key to ensuring that we arrive at a more racially inclusive business world.

As the anniversary of the worldwide protests for Black Lives Matter fast approaches, it will be an important benchmark for measuring the progress made over the last year.

It will be interesting to see how the momentum for equality continues to build, as the number of brands setting a new standard for racial inclusivity expands.


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