Next Steps for Retailer Diversity Pledges

As impassioned protests over racial injustice broke out across the country, many retailers and brands came off the sidelines to show support for #BlackLivesMatter. Many of these companies were immediately taken to task for their responses, often small donations to diversity groups or hashtag-heavy social posts that came across as weak attempts to burnish poor track records fighting injustice.

In the next round of public posts and letters to employees, companies turned introspective and offered more honest pledges to review policies and move to a more diverse workplace. Nordstrom, Amazon, Macy’s, and Best Buy, to name a few, talked about the need to solve for inequities for employees and customers. Adidas, which had been chided by employees and others for an initial pledge of $20 million, far behind a joint offering of $140 million from Nike and Michael Jordan’s Jordan Brand, offered up another $100 million to invest in black communities.

While all of these pledges are definitely steps in the right direction, commerce companies need to be prepared to document how they are making good on their promises. Any company that has made a statement pledging to become more diverse or to donate large sums of money to fight inequality needs to regularly update their customers, employees and the broader community on how well they’re doing and what change they’ve really fostered.

Companies shouldn’t shy away from documenting efforts that drive less-than-stellar results. Honesty needs to be the policy going forward, so companies can work together to find solutions that are effective.