West Elm Takes the 15 Percent Pledge to Support Black-Owned Businesses

Emilee Geist

Photo credit: West Elm
Photo credit: West Elm

From ELLE Decor

As the #blacklivesmatter hashtag slowly stops trending online, how are large corporations going to continue to use their power to make an impact toward economic equality for Black businesses in their respective industries? Aurora James—the founder of Brother Vellies, a luxury accessories brand—came up with the 15 Percent Pledge as a response to the many people and businesses alike who have asked the question, What can we do to help?

The name of the project is derived from the fact that Black Americans make up nearly 15 percent of the U.S. population; the pledge began to go viral after James proposed the idea on her personal Instagram account and directly tagged major retailers such as Target, Sephora, and Whole Foods. When companies sign on to take the pledge, they are promising that at least 15 percent of their shelf space will be devoted to products made by Black-owned businesses, as well as promising transparency to customers about the internal changes happening at their companies.

ELLE Decor is proud to share that West Elm, the Brooklyn-based global design company, is the first in the home-goods sector and one of three companies that have signed on to the 15 Percent Pledge. As part of the pledge, they will commit to:

  • “Increase West Elm’s design collaborations with Black designers, artists, and Black-owned brands to a minimum of 15% of total”

  • “Increase the share of Black makers and small businesses within West Elm LOCAL to a 15% minimum”

  • “Increase the share of Black employees within West Elm’s corporate workforce to a minimum of 15%, as well as strengthening the retail-to-corporate pipeline”

“We are determined to use our purchasing power to create economic empowerment for Black-owned businesses, artists, and designers,” said Alex Bellos, president of West Elm. “We look forward to working with the 15 Percent Pledge to ensure our commitments make an immediate and sustained impact.”

You can sign the 15 Percent Pledge petition yourself, to let the retailers you frequent know that you support this pledge. The overall goal: Moving past one-time donations and words of allyship toward taking concrete actions that will benefit the Black community today, tomorrow, and always.

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