The 15 Percent Pledge: What it is, and how you can support it

As the Black Lives Matter movement intensifies across the globe, people are awakening to the systemic racism that is so prevalent throughout society today and wondering what we can do as individuals to cause real lasting change.

Businesses in particular are in a prime position to effect tangible change, which is where The 15 Percent Pledge comes in. Created by Aurora James, founder of footwear and accessory label Brother Vellies, the idea is to call on major US retailers to pledge 15 per cent of their shelf space to black-owned businesses, inspired by the fact that black people account for 15 per cent of the population in the United States.

The website states: ‘You asked how you can help. This is your opportunity to collectively put $14.5B back into Black communities,’ before calling out a number of major US retailers: ‘Target, Sephora, Whole Foods, Shopbob, will you take our pledge?’

To support the campaign as an individual in the UK, you can sign the petition, which will add pressure to businesses to take the pledge, as well as tagging your favourite brands who you want to do better in the comments of the @15percentpledge Instagram posts.

In the absence of a similar initiative on our shores, you can also commit yourself to consciously seek out black-owned businesses to buy from – we’ve already rounded up just a few of our favourite black-owned beauty and fashion brands that you should have on your radar. This is especially important now more than ever, as it comes to light that black-owned businesses have been the worst affected during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to pledging 15 per cent of their shelf space to black-owned businesses, the campaign also wants to raise awareness of the hidden racial inequalities throughout businesses’ practices: ‘Is your company promoting black businesses? What about black leadership? Does your advertising show black faces? Do your shelves offer customers the option to buy from black-owned businesses? When you hire illustrators, photographers and designers, do you include black talent?’ reads one post on the @15percentpledge Instagram page.

Add your name to the petition and be part of a global movement to support black-owned businesses now and forever.