For decades, companies making beauty and personal care products catered almost exclusively to white consumers’ needs. What few products were created for people of color typically were relegated to a small “ethnic beauty” section in stores.
They’ve been ignoring a huge market, he says, especially given projections that by 2045, non-Hispanic whites will no longer make up the majority of the US population.

“We have an audience that has not been served in over 100 years as well as they deserve to be. … If the majority of the world represents this audience, why aren’t you serving them?” he said in a recent interview with CNN Business’ Rachel Crane.

When asked if he believed other retailers should follow Sephora’s lead and dedicate 15% of their shelf space to products from black-owned companies, Walker replied, “It’s a great start, I hope to see more of it.”

But he also encouraged brands to be bolder than that. “Why only 15%? When I think about folks of color being the majority of this country in 20, 30 years — why not kind of push for that future? Can more than half of the store represent the need for this growing audience?”

The same question might be put to corporate America, which in the wake of George Floyd’s killing is under pressure to finally reckon with the racism and exclusion that has held back African-Americans and other minority employees for decades.

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Walker said he’s heartened to hear companies taking a strong stand against racism. But to make real change going forward he recommends they first acknowledge the trauma black employees face daily in relation to justice and equity. Then take a hard look at what the company’s stated values are and whether its decisions and actions are really in line with them.

“This isn’t only about just donating to a few organizations, it’s actually following up. Are you hiring folks who represent the audience that you’re serving? Are you putting folks on your boards who represent the audience that you’re serving?”

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