Twenty-five major retail and fashion brands signed on to a letter today released by the Open to All campaign—an anti-discrimination effort that counts 200+ nonprofits and more than 300,000 businesses as members—that urges the corporate world to examine and address racial disparities related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The letter slams the recent uptick in attacks on Asians and Asian Americans, and also calls on employers to reduce overall racial inequities by increasing diverse hiring practices. The 25 signatory brands linked Covid-19’s disproportionate impact on people of color to socioeconomic inequality, saying that employers must commit to strengthening diversity and inclusion efforts moving forward. The letter offers actionable steps companies can take to combat racial inequality.
“COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting and killing Black and Latinx /Hispanic communities, as well as Pacific Islanders, and amplifying many existing health and socioeconomic inequities,” reads the letter posted on the Open to All website. “Long term structural inequality has led to these disparities, especially inequities in employment and access to healthcare. Employers can help reduce these inequities.”
The 25 companies that signed on to the letter are AEO Inc., which includes brands American Eagle and Aerie; Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream; Capri Holdings Limited, which has the brands Jimmy Choo, Michael Kors, and Versace; Gap Inc., which includes brands Athleta, Banana Republic, Gap, Hill City, Intermix and Old Navy; H&M; Lacoste; Levi Strauss & Co.; Movado Group Inc.; Ralph Lauren; Steve Madden; and Tapestry Inc., which includes brands Coach, kate spade new york and Stuart Weitzman.
The online letter ends with an invitation to other companies to sign on as well.
“Covid-19 is not the ‘great equalizer,’ as some have called it,” said Open to All campaign director Calla Rongerude. “Rather, it is a profound reminder of how inequalities continue to permeate all areas of life. While the pandemic’s impact has reached far and wide, communities of color have been hit with the greatest ferocity.”
“While many of these companies are themselves reeling from the crisis,” Rongerude continued, “they recognize the need to come together, now more than ever, to address the racial inequities that have been laid bare by Covid-19, and we thank them for their leadership.”
Some of the companies that signed on to the letter are also expanding their own campaigns to address the impact of Covid-19 on black and Latino communities in particular. On May 1, ice cream giant Ben & Jerry’s published a blog post that delved into the impact systemic racism can have on health, called for expanded coronavirus testing in communities of color, and announced support for The People’s Bailout fundraising campaign.
The Open to All campaign is a project of Movement Advancement Project, the nonprofit that maps and tracks LGBTQ policy around the nation. Open to All first launched in the fall of 2017 in response to the Masterpiece Cakeshop case then being argued at the Supreme Court—in which a baker sought the right to deny services to LGBTQ people based on his religious convictions.
The campaign was formed as a response to all forms of discrimination in business and expanded into a partnership with Yelp in 2018 that allows companies to identify themselves on the app as “open to all,” as well as display window stickers with the campaign logo.