James said the Canadian effort was launched in part in response to comments it received from Canadians who came into contact following the US campaign to say that retailers such as Hudson’s Bay and Holt Renfrew can do better.
She said she was optimistic that the Canadians would take over.
“Canada is also, in my view, quick to act when it realizes that there are inequalities. I hope some of these retailers will act on this as quickly, “said James.
The campaign calls on major retailers to “start a conversation” with the organization about fairer shopping by July 1 – Canada Day.
He is looking for 100,000 Canadians to sign the petition calling on retailers to do so.
The campaign website notes that Canada’s population is 5% Aboriginal and 3.5% Black.
“According to the 2016 census, 22.3% of Canadians identify themselves as members of visible minorities. Our petition calls on Canada to apply the 15% commitment to economic equality for Canada’s BIPOC, “said the report.
James said she would particularly like to see Hudson’s Bay, Holt Renfrew and the e-commerce site Essence take the lead on Canadian retailers who are committed to the 15% target.
She said that this work is particularly critical during the pandemic because companies belonging to BIPOC are disproportionately vulnerable to bankruptcy during this period.
A survey by Statistics Canada and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce found that businesses belonging to various segments of the population – including women, Aboriginal peoples, visible minorities, immigrants and the disabled – 48.92% said they could not stay open for more than three months in the context of physical distancing, compared to a national average of 39.7%.
In the U.S., the 15% promise hit the headlines earlier this month when cosmetic retailer Sephora and online subscription service Rent the Runway committed to ensuring that 15% of the products they sell ‘they carry will come from black designers.
Sephora’s support was a good start for the campaign. The company is owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and has more than 400 stores in the United States and 80 in Canada.
James said that less than one percent of store shelves are currently reserved for black-owned businesses in the United States, but “dozens” of businesses are now engaged in a conversation with the campaign on how to remedy the imbalance of the brands they carry.
“They think about it so much and really make sure they set those benchmarks to make sure they can reach 15% in a super sustainable way,” she said.