Demand for social justice has taken over the center-stage of many people’s lives and minds in the past few weeks. Companies, large and small, have also been quick to show their support for Black Lives Matter; some out of respect for their black staff members, some recognize that silence is no longer an option. To push the envelope further for a meaningful change, Sharon Chuter, CEO of Uoma Beauty, launched Pull Up for Change to press for increased transparency in racial composition of leadership teams at beauty brands. With 72 hours to respond, her challenge to the industry’s giants is putting them in the hot seat.
As a Good Life Editor and a young black woman, I take a close look into the background of those who are spearheading social movements related to race. Getting a sense of who they are, where they’re from and what they’ve done provides useful insights into how their experiences align with the changes they push for and how that can be relatable and inspiring for all.
Born in Nigeria, Sharon Chuter has navigated her own path in life to work with some of the most well-known beauty brands; she has witnessed how the industry has evolved in terms of diversity. Branching off in 2019, Sharon launched Uoma Beauty, a forward–thinking, inclusive brand rooted in her Afro heritage. According to Sharon, Uoma Beauty exists for two reasons: to celebrate uniqueness and to bring people from all ethnicities, gender, sexual orientation, sizes and of all ages together. Their products include a diverse range of shades to cater for every skin tone. Checking out her brand’s values and beliefs, you find these powerful and definitive words – “Self-expression”, “Empowering Tribe” and “Inclusivity”.
Standing for what her brand preaches, Sharon saw a need to step up and use her platform to stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Her PULL UP FOR CHANGE challenge calls on brands to be transparent by disclosing the number of Black people they currently employ in corporate roles. In America, despite representing approximately 13% of the population, Black people only account for 3.2% of all leadership roles in large companies. The Pull Up for Change official Instagram page, has already been verified and gained over 127K followers since its first post on June 3rd. The post thanks each brand for their statements supporting BLM and promptly follows up with a simple call–to–action – asking them to publicly release diversity data within 72 hours. So far, there has been a great response to the call–out with huge brands like Kylie Cosmetics, E.L.F., Glossier and Beauty Blender “pulling up”. Although some of the companies who have participated presented rather disappointing numbers, this now opens the doors for them to review and analyze their current hiring practices to create more equitable opportunities for Black people.
Never before are independent business owners and start-up brands better enabled through social platforms to communicate swiftly and directly in areas where civic voices were previously muted. Taking action to hold corporates accountable for their roles is one of the ways our new generation of fearless entrepreneurs, who are deeply anchored in their values and mission, are shaping a good society. As Tupac Shakur once said, “it’s time for us as a people to start making some changes.”