This year has brought a considerable amount of attention to the inequalities that still exist in the world. A new campaign is working to highlight Canada's diversity through an initiative aimed at boosting BIPOC voices. The 15 Percent Pledge aims to boost representation in the business sector.

The pledge, which was started by a Candian-born fashion designer, asks retailers to devote a portion of their retail space to brands that are BIPOC-owned.

Several large companies have already signed on, including one major Canadian chain. Others who have been asked to join the campaign have yet to respond.

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What is the 15% Pledge?

Businesses in Canada are being asked to devote 15% of their shelf-space to products that are made by BIPOC-owned companies.

The campaign asks retailers to first take inventory of how much shelf-space they are devoting to Black and Indigenous businesses and suppliers.

After taking ownership of any blind spots or disparities, companies are then urged to publish their findings both internally and externally while describing what concrete steps will be taken toward correcting inequality.

The final step is for these retailers to take action by sharing their plan and executing it while remaining accountable and transparent.

Who started the campaign?

The pledge is a project spearheaded by fashion designer and Brother Vellies founder Aurora James.

She first introduced the idea in a May 29 Instagram post aimed at major companies in the United States and has since proposed the pledge to Canadian businesses as well.

James was born in Guelph, Ontario and moved to Ocho Rios, Jamaica when she was seven, according to Vogue.

When she was 15, she got her first internship with Next models in Toronto, and eventually went on to study fashion at Ryerson University, before switching her major to journalism.

James says on her website she founded Brother Vellies "with the goal of preserving the shoemaking craft in Africa and creating new jobs for the artisans in our workshops."

Which companies have signed on?

A number of companies have signed on to the pledge, including Sephora, West Elm, Rent The Runway, Vogue, and Yelp. 

Of the Canadian businesses that have been named by the campaign, only Indigo has officially announced that it would be dedicating 15% of its shelf space to BIPOC authors.

It will also be dedicating 15% of its display space for lifestyle products to those from BIPOC-owned businesses.

The organization has also called on Hudson's Bay, Ssense, and Holt Renfrew to take on the pledge. However, as of October 21, these companies have not yet signed on.

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