On Tuesday, June 2, Instagram was awash with blank, black squares, a virtual show of solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement that has ignited worldwide protests over the past week. Countless brands used #blackouttuesday as an opportunity to post supportive statements, leading some — like UOMA Beauty founder and CEO Sharon Chuter — to question which ones are actually living up to their anti-racist claims. And so, to find out, she started the #PullUpOrShutUp campaign.
"Your favourite brands are making bold PR statements about their support for the black community," the Nigeria-born entrepreneur said in an Instagram post the following day. "Please ask them how many black employees they have in their organisation (HQ and satellite offices ONLY) and how many black people they have in leadership roles."
According to a 2019 Center for Talent Innovation report, "Being Black in Corporate America: An Intersectional Exploration," Black men and women make up only about 8 percent of the professional white-collar workforce and 3.2 percent of executive and senior leadership roles.
Chuter's new #PullUpOrShutUp campaign challenges consumers to boycott brands who have made recent statements about their support for the Black community for 72 hours until their Black corporate employment and leadership position numbers are publicly revealed.
"This is not an exercise in naming and shaming but simply a call for all brands to review their own practices," Chuter said in a statement. "It’s easy to say racism is other people’s problem but it’s important at this critical point in time that we all look at how we may have contributed to this issue and have the humility to accept it and make an effort to change it. Black people remain starved of economic opportunities. We can create long term economic change for black people by simply holding brands accountable to practice what they preach. Many don’t even have options in their product ranges for black people and it's 2020!"
Chuter delves deeper into the statistics in an Instagram video: Black business owners receive only 2 percent of startup funding and the average Black woman receives only $42,000 to grow her business versus the $2.2 million received by white men, she says.
Follow the new @PullUpForChange Instagram page for updates on the #PullUpOrShutUp campaign.