February is Black History Month, an annual celebration of the achievements of Black Americans. It is a time for reflecting on the adversity and inequities the Black community has faced and overcome to achieve equality in American society.
It is also a time to recognize the essential role Black Americans play in U.S. history and the communal effort needed to bring equity to future generations. The retail community needs diversity, equity and inclusion to thrive and has a responsibility to advance racial equity and increase representation for a stronger future.
This year for Black History Month, we’re highlighting NRF members that are uplifting the Black community and celebrating Black success through more than the products they sell. They’re also committing resources, time and effort toward the expansion of equity, representation and opportunities for the Black community and the creators, innovators, designers and business owners whose excellence deserves to be celebrated.
Amazon is celebrating Black History Month with the theme “Black is Remarkable” and dedicating its focus toward supporting and establishing inclusive experiences for employees and customers. Its Black Business Accelerator is a year-round initiative that helps build sustainable equity and growth for Black-owned businesses. In addition to representing Black brands and products across all commerce fronts, the Amazon Music channel on Twitch will host a discussion series featuring interviews with influential artists and creators in Black culture.
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NRF Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Working Group member Burlington is celebrating Black History Month with a weekly campaign throughout February to raise awareness of the barriers that disproportionately impact Black Americans and provide practical tips to promote physical, financial and mental well-being. As part of its educational activities and resources for associates, it will host a panel focused on “Embracing Identity, Celebrating Culture, and Enhancing the Associate Experience.” The company also hosts a bi-monthly conversation starter where Chief DE&I Officer Mecca Mitchell shares her insights on relevant cultural and social issues with associates.
Burlington partners with multiple local organizations whose missions are centered around building equity and opportunity for the Black community. It is a founding sponsor of AdoptAClassrom.org’s Racial Equity in Schools Fund, which provides professional development and resources to help schools eliminate racial bias in the classroom. It also supports the 5013c nonprofit Black Retail Action Group, providing educational support and internships as part of the organization’s effort to prepare students of color for leadership roles in retail, fashion and related industries.
For over 30 years, Hallmark’s Mahogany has offered greeting cards, crafts and free resources and tools to help consumers honor and celebrate Black culture. Mahogany’s offerings have recently expanded and include the launch of a dedicated website, new ecommerce shopping capabilities and the Mahogany Writing Community, designed to celebrate Black womanhood and create uplifting spaces for story sharing and creating.
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Recently recognized as one of America’s greatest workplaces for diversity in 2023, Hallmark is working with Mahogany Brand Vice President Alexis Kerr to expand opportunities for Black women and creators through the brand while continuing to provide consumers with educational and impactful resources and products for Black History Month.
This year, Macy’s is celebrating its commitment to the Black community through its “Black History, Black Brilliance” campaign in partnership with the United Negro College Fund. Macy’s launched a month-long round-up and donation campaign in stores and online to benefit scholarship funds for students attending historically Black colleges and universities. Students can also receive scholarship support through the Future of Style Fund with Clark Atlanta University.
Macy’s social purpose initiative, “Mission Every One,” spotlights Black-owned brands and holds shopping events seeking to break down barriers to equality and empower young people to celebrate Black History Month. Consumers can also support the many Black-owned brands whose stories will be highlighted and shared throughout February.
In the New York tri-state area, McDonald’s operators are sponsoring the Faces of Black History Tour, a free live historical show that teaches students about influential figures of Black history through music. The play can be streamed live online through Black-owned media company 360WiSE TV.
McDonald’s has also partnered with Keke Palmer to launch the 2023 Black & Positively Golden Change Leaders, a program that gives 10 young Black leaders access to resources and platforms that can amplify their community missions and enhance their abilities as leaders. HBCU students can also apply to McDonald’s Black & Positively Golden Scholarship Program, which awards $1 million in scholarships in partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.
Through the FundxCoach Foundation, Tapestry and its brands offer financial support to students in fashion-related majors at HBCUs and participated in last year’s HBCU Fashion Summit, where they educated students on the history of Kate Spade New York, mental health topics and skill building for careers in the fashion industry.
This year, it announced a partnership between the Coach Foundation and Pensole Lewis College of Business & Design, creating the Coach Dream It Real x PLC Masterclass, which provided a six-week virtual program and design certifications for Black students pursuing careers in fashion. During the month of February, Tapestry will be featuring the career journeys of industry professionals and the critical work being done to expand opportunities for the BIPOC community. The Black Alliance ERG will also be hosting impactful and educational activities throughout the month in celebration of Black triumph.
In 2020, Target CEO Brian Cornell committed $10 million and ongoing resources toward the advancement of social justice and rebuilding and recovery efforts in local communities. The company is a longstanding supporter of the National Urban League and the African American Leadership Forum and provides 10,000 hours of pro-bono consulting services for minority small business-owners in the Twin Cities.
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Target also provides career building, educational opportunities and scholarships through the Target Scholars program, its partnership with the UNCF and support of HBCUs. This year, Target will honor and highlight Black-owned businesses and creators through its 2023 Black Beyond Measure Campaign and Collection and the Black Beyond Measure Digital hub, which uplifts Black entrepreneurs and gets their products to more customers. Target has also come together with REVOLT to spotlight the next generation of Black entrepreneurs in the “Bet on Black” competition series that provides opportunities and monetary prizes for businesses that build communities, support social justice and propel the culture.
Walmart has recently partnered with HOORAE, an entertainment media company created by Issa Rae, to launch the “Black & Unlimited Digital Development Program.” The initiative provides young Black creators with resources and mentorship to help them build their careers and industry knowledge. Walmart believes in celebrating Black excellence all year long and will continue to provide its inclusive storytelling platform and similar resources to expand the network of Black digital influencers and creators.
In addition to uplifting Black creators and their businesses, Walmart’s Center for Racial Equity has committed $100 million over five years toward addressing the drivers of systemic racism in society and enact productive change. The Center is focused on advancing health, finance, education and criminal justice equity for the Black community, and as of last year had invested $35 million toward the effort.
In 2022, Victoria’s Secret signed a multi-year commitment with the Fifteen Percent Pledge, committing a minimum of 15% of its annual purchasing power to Black-owned businesses. It continues to partner with Howard University School of Business, helping expand the curriculum to provide development opportunities and create a pipeline for graduates into retail and business roles.
This year, it established a partnership with Zora’s House, a co-working and community space for women and non-binary people of color in Columbus, Ohio, and will provide opportunities and outreach resources. Victoria’s Secret will also be hosting a conversation circle with creatives and innovators in the fashion and lifestyle space as well as other activations, panel discussions and virtual events to celebrate and bring awareness to the Black diaspora and the importance of understanding the Black experience in the industry. VS Pink has partnered with We The Urban, a Black-owned digital media outlet, to design an exclusive “Use Your Power to Empower” T-shirt and will donate $50,000 to Black & Pink National.