Fresh cosmetics company Lush has a track record of speaking out on issues that many businesses tend to avoid, such as climate change, marriage equality and animal testing, for fear of alienating their customers.
But increasingly customers and employees are demanding that businesses stand up for the values they claim to support and take part in social and political debates with public statements and commitments to take action.
The Black Lives Matter protests sweeping the globe have prompted many Australian brands to express solidarity with the black community in the US as well as in Australia, but not all their messages have been well received.
Brands that don’t have a history of diversity in their hiring practices, marketing campaigns and influencer partnerships, or worse, have not taken a zero-tolerance approach to racism from employees or customers in the past, have been called out for virtue signalling.
Unfortunately, this might be causing some brands to stay silent on the Black Lives Matter movement. So we asked Lush ANZ director Peta Granger how the cosmetics brand decides to weigh in on important issues. Here’s what she had to say.
On deciding to make a statement
As a campaigning company when we make a statement on an issue we look at it in three ways. Firstly, we look internally and address the issue head on, implementing changes in our business that we wish to see elsewhere.
Secondly, we have a bottom-up approach to campaigning where we listen to the demands of our customers and staff to see where we can amplify issues that are most important to our community.
Thirdly, we try to influence, amplify and fund root cause issues, legislation or the systemic changes needed to create real progress. For example, Grata Fund, who uses litigation as a powerful tool to protect and advance the rights and freedoms of all people and SEED Mob on fighting the Adani coal mine.
On showing genuine solidarity
A public statement is just a start – we need to play our part in bringing about real change to address the issues that black voices are crying out to us.
Businesses need to move beyond statements to show genuine solidarity and allyship through action and listening to people of colour with lived experience. We admit that we are late to the table and that, like society, Lush needs to change and do better.
On letting experts take the lead
We know it’s important to be led by experts and people with lived experience, such as incredible grassroots organisations like Democracy in Colour, SEED Mob and NASCA who are led by people of colour and Indigenous youth.
Over the past two years, Lush has donated over $140,000 to organisations led by Indigenous people and people of colour, including Democracy in Colour, SEED Mob, NASCA, NATSILS, Indigenous Crisis Response & Recovery Aboriginal Corporation and Australian Youth Climate Coalition.
We will continue to do all that we can to support grassroots organisations such as these groups, who work tirelessly to make positive changes at the root cause.
On choosing to support Black Lives Matter
We want to raise our voice alongside black people worldwide and say now is the time for justice, for respect, for equity and for equality. Now is a time to listen, to restructure and to weave a different future together.
We will continue to lend our platforms to be of use to the black community as they try to get their voices heard, not just on the streets but to reach through to our homes and our lives with the messages we all need to hear, digest and act upon.