Glossier Responds to Staffers’ Accounts of ‘Humiliating’ Racism

by Freya Drohan

Emily Weiss’ millennial-beloved beauty brand Glossier has revealed an action plan after an Instagram account created by retail staff called out the company’s shortcomings.

A page called Outta The Gloss, a reference to Into The Gloss; Weiss’ blog-turned-editorial arm of Glossier, appeared last week in order to address the founder.

The account linked to an open letter shared on Medium titled To Glossier: A Call for Accountability and Necessary Change, which detailed the racism experienced by showroom editors (the company’s retail employees.)

The condemning letter details pay disparity, limited opportunities for growth, a culture of favoritism, and questionable work conditions. BIPOC editors revealed that they were often solicited for input on procedure and product development, without pay, and could then be inadvertently punished for sharing negative feedback with management.

The letter also questions the authenticity of the brand, which was born from a mission statement to level the playing field in the beauty world: “We as a collective of former retail employees–aka ‘editors’–have experienced an ongoing insidious culture of anti-Blackness, transphobia, ableism, and retaliation. We know the proclaimed brand values of inclusivity, accessibility, and equity should apply to us. We ask Glossier’s devoted community: if this democratization is only achieved by perniciously silencing Black and Brown editors and without treating marginalized staff equitably—have they democratized beauty at all, or is it more of the same?”

Management at the retail stores was called out for having a priority that didn’t protect staff’s wellbeing: “Many at the senior management level had backgrounds not in retail nor beauty, but in hospitality. Their approach cultivated a commitment to a customer satisfaction that undermined workers’ wellbeing so completely that it strayed from conventional deference to the buyer and instead for an ingratiating model—one that was totally submissive and deeply humiliating, particularly for those of us who are BIPOC.”

Fortune also spoke with 18 former Glossier employees anonymously who spoke about upsetting, problematic incidents they experienced—describing being placed in situations where they had to tolerate anything from microaggressions to aggressively racist behavior—without support from management.

In response to the widely-circulated letter, Weiss penned a piece for the corporate blog, which was rejected by those running the Outta The Gloss page, deeming it “empty words” and “performative”.

Last night, Weiss shared an updated promise to all staff, which can be read in its entirety on her Instagram page. In the update, Weiss implies that everything shared in the open letter will be addressed urgently.

Those managing the Outta The Gloss account acknowledged and thanked the billion-dollar startup founder for her response, but noted that “[Glossier’s] work is not done. This is only their first step.”

The account adds that it will share a full response imminently.

Due to ongoing safety concerns surrounding the spread of COVID, Glossier’s retail stores will remain closed indefinitely.

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