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The Pull Up For Change movement has landed in Australia

PHOTOGRAPHY BY OLIVIA REPACI

WORDS BY ROSANNA WATTS

It’s time for Aussie brands to pull up or shut up.

A few weeks ago, the controversial #blackoutuesday movement saw our feeds flooded with black squares showing supposed solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement, a well-intentioned but poorly thought out display of activism that ultimately drowned out important messages from BIPOC activists. 

Fed up with too many brands using said squares or token donations in place of implementing plans for real, long term change, Uoma Beauty founder and CEO Sharon Chuter announced her Pull Up or Shut Up Challenge (PUSU).

The challenge aims to seek out and destroy performative corporate activism, by asking brands to reveal their employee demographic within 72 hours of posting a message of support for Black people and is encouraging brands to have at least ten per cent Black people employed in their corporate environment.

“You cannot say Black lives matter publicly if you don’t show us Black lives matter within your own homes and within your organisations,” says Sharon. 

Just three weeks ago, Sharon made the challenge official with the Pull Up for Change Insta account which has since gained over 130, 000 followers. 

In an Instagram video, Sharon revealed that while Black people make up eight per cent of corporate roles in America, they hold only three per cent of management positions. And the higher you look, the worse it gets, with only four Black CEOs among the 500 largest US corporations, otherwise known as the Fortune 500.  

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It’s time warriors! Ask for transparency and accountability. We collated your feedback and these are the companies you would love to see #pulluporshutup It’s time to protest with our thumbs! Go to their pages, comment, DM, tweet at them. Let’s all ask at the same time to see the number of Black people in corporate roles and leadership roles. Please stay respectful. We are a peaceful community. GO! GO! GO! Ask them to #pulluporshutup Note – The most popular brands mentioned but not listed here were @fentybeauty @kkwbeauty @jeffreestarcosmetics Feel free to still ask them to pullup. We left them out because we have already asked and they didn’t pull up. Stay on it! Persistence pays off.

A post shared by PULL UP OR SHUT UP! (@pullupforchange) on

Many brands across several industries have accepted the challenge, from familiar beauty brands such as Revlon, which reported 27 per cent of its employees are Black, to Netflix which revealed Black employees make up just seven per cent of its workforce.

Others are yet to front up, and in a post on the Pull Up for Change Insta, Sharon announced the brands we want to hear from most, and among them were Zara, Boohoo, H&M and Pretty Little Thing.

While much of the recent wave of activism has originated in the US, we cannot ignore issues of systemic racism in our own country. When it comes to differences between First Nations and non-First Nations Australians, the gap in economic and employment outcomes remains stark.

And we can’t forget the shocking persistence of our country’s implicit racial bias, which continues to prevent fair employment opportunities for all BIPOC in Australia. 

In response to these issues, concerned Aussies have been inspired by Sharon’s movement and have brought the PUSU challenge onto local soil. The movement’s Instagram is following in Sharon’s footsteps and is calling Aussie consumers to ask our local brands like Kmart, Myer and David Jones for transparency and commitment. 

Lush’s Australian and New Zealand offices chose to pull up first and reported eight per cent Aboriginal and eight per cent Maori in their leadership roles. Its response also promised a tangible plan of action in the near future and was announced on the Pull Up for Change Instagram as Australia’s official entrance into the discussion. 

As consumers, we have an important role to play in keeping brands accountable. “It’s an everyday challenge as far as opening your wallet and supporting the brands that are doing well and not supporting the brands that aren’t doing well. Only through that are you going to mobilise them and encourage them to do better,” says Sharon. 

While Sharon works on developing software that will help consumers filter out the brands worth their loyalty from those that aren’t, in Australia it’s important we help get the movement off the ground.

This means following the Australian Pull Up For Change socials and using its provided letter to call out your fave Aussie brands to, as Sharon says, “Either pull up or shut up.”

Head here to get involved in Australia and follow Pull Up for Change here to find out which international brands are pulling up and which ones you should be calling out. 

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