May 13, 2021 at 05:54PM
Hudson’s Bay is the first major department store in Canada to take the 15 Percent Pledge, committing to dedicating at least 15 percent of its shelf space to brands owned by Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC).
This commitment will come into effect at the start of the Fall/Winter 2021 season, and will apply to brands sold both in stores and online. As part of the pledge, Hudson’s Bay will also be reviewing their internal business organization to ensure that by 2022, 15 percent or more of the design talent for their brands are BIPOC.
The 15 Percent Pledge was launched last May by Canadian designer Aurora James, founder of shoe and accessory brand Brother Vellies, in response to the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. “For the first time, it seemed like people were finally beginning to pay attention to how systemic racism impacts every aspect of this country. We saw corporations issuing countless statements of support with Black Lives Matter, and this was an opportunity to bring companies to the table and offer them viable solutions to invest in Black businesses tailored to their specific needs,” James told FASHION in an interview earlier this year.
The initiative urges major retailers to allocate a minimum of 15 percent of their shelf space to BIPOC-owned brands, in pursuit of economic equality for racialized communities, by encouraging large corporations to take accountability for their role in systemic racism. “We represent 15% of the population and we need to represent 15% of your shelf space,” James wrote in an Instagram caption first announcing the pledge.
And today, the oldest department store in North America has announced their commitment to the 15 Percent Pledge.
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“As a Black business owner and proud Canadian, it’s encouraging to see this iconic brand take a pivotal step toward driving equity across retail,” said James about the announcement. “This is the first time Hudson’s Bay has made a commitment like this in its 350-year history, and we hope their dedication and leadership encourages other international retailers to support brands that are representative of their diverse populations.”
Many brands have already taken the pledge, including Crate & Barrel, Sephora, West Elm, Gap, and Canadian retailer Chapters Indigo.
Hudson’s Bay — which operates 88 locations in Canada — made the announcement to join the pledge not long after the launch of its Hudson’s Bay Charter for Change, a new platform that promises to invest $30 million into partner organizations with the goal of achieving equal opportunities for racialized Canadians through education, employment and empowerment.
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“As one of the country’s leading corporate citizens, Hudson’s Bay has a responsibility to drive equity and inclusion in Canada,” says Iain Nairn, president and CEO of Hudson’s Bay in a press release. “Our commitment through the Fifteen Percent Pledge is part of a holistic change to how we do business, and will hold us accountable to providing opportunity and delivering products that are representative of the diversity of our customers, associates and communities.”