Ulta Commits $25M to Diversity and Inclusion

Gina Acosta
Executive Editor
gina acosta
Ulta Pledges $25M to Diversity and Inclusion
In her role as Diversity and Inclusion Advisor, Tracee Ellis Ross will provide counsel and insight, and drive accountability to Ulta Beauty, the company says.

Ulta Beauty is making a big investment in diversity and inclusion just a few weeks after competitor Sephora launched its own racial equity action plan.

Ulta plans to spend $25 million on a four-pronged approach to fighting inequality that involves: amplifying diverse voices through its new Muse platform, doubling the number of Black-owned brands in its assortment, improving in-store experiences for the customer and offering more career advancement opportunities for associates. 

Additionally, the company announced that actress Tracee Ellis Ross, CEO and founder of PATTERN Beauty, will become the company’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisor, a formalized role to provide counsel, inspiration and drive accountability.

“As the country’s beauty retail leader, we believe we have the power to shape how the world sees beauty and as such, we have a responsibility to inspire positive change and drive greater diversity, inclusivity and equity,” said Mary Dillon, CEO, Ulta Beauty “We are deeply committed to leading purposefully with and for underrepresented voices across retail and beauty on our D&I journey.”

Ulta Beauty says it has long prioritized diversity and inclusion within its overarching business strategy, as reflected in its mission: using the power of beauty to bring to life the possibilities that lie within each of us. The 2021 commitments provide a holistic view of tangible efforts intended to further existing work to champion diversity and ultimately, to ensure guests, associates, partners and communities feel connected to and reflected at Ulta Beauty, the retailer said.

More details about Ulta's diversity plans include:

  • Approximately $20 million will be allocated to media investments across endemic and multi-cultural platforms to create more personal connections with LatinX, Black and other communities, more than doubling the spend of the last three years.
  • The company will work directly with Black founders and entrepreneurs with the goal to grow brands so these beauty leaders can thrive as they continue to serve the Black community.
  • To increase the presence of Black entrepreneurs, Ulta Beauty will double the number of Black-owned brands in its assortment by the end of 2021.
  • More than $4 million will be dedicated to marketing support of Black-owned brands within the company’s assortment to fuel brand awareness and sustain growth.
  • Ulta is introducing quarterly, in-store training for all store and salon associates in March 2021 to reinforce inclusivity and address unconscious bias. These mandatory trainings account for a $2 million investment and are additional to Ulta Beauty’s existing store and salon trainings.
  • The company will implement a mandatory 2.0 version of its Building Upon Race Matters Leadership Training across field, distribution center and corporate associates in 2021.
  • The retailer has established a Diverse Leaders Program to empower more than 30, high-potential associates as future company leaders with CEO and executive mentorship.
  • Annual performance reviews will include evaluation against the core value of Champion Diversity and the key competency of Inclusion.

“Authenticity as an inclusive brand with welcoming experiences for all and an approachable assortment are tenets of how we champion diversity at Ulta Beauty,” continued Dillon. “We have mapped these commitments to impact every facet of our work. We look forward to sharing more as we continue on this journey with steadfast commitment from our teams and our newly established advisor Tracee Ellis Ross, who brings passion, experience and perspective to this important work.”

In her role as Diversity and Inclusion Advisor, Ross will provide counsel and insight, and drive accountability to Ulta Beauty with a specific focus on BIPOC brand development, diverse leadership development and supplier diversity. She will join internal Executive D&I Council Summits quarterly. The executive council is chaired by Dillon and brings together Ulta Beauty’s executive team to holistically review D&I progress, gaps and opportunities.

The D&I news from Ulta comes after Sephora announced its own equity action plan in January. Sephora plans to double its assortment of Black-owned brands by the end of 2021; establish new marketing production guidelines that reinforce consideration of a diverse array of backgrounds, identities, ages and body types in the company’s campaigns, social media, marketing and more; create new training modules required for all employees that better define what client engagement should look like; reduce the presence of third-party security vendors in stores; and update zero-tolerance policies that prohibit discrimination, harassment and other violations of the company’s code of conduct.

The new strategies from Ulta and Sephora come after a year of racial reckoning in the U.S. that has prompted many retailers to re-evaluate their diversity practices. Retailers from all channels, from food to beauty to apparel, have debuted new programs to promote racial equity, including Trader Joe's, Schnuck Markets, Hy-Vee, Target, Walmart, Amazon and many others.

Ulta Beauty operates more than 1,250 retail stores across 50 states and also distributes its products through its website.

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