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Glossier Accused of Racism by Former Employees

"A company [being] founded by a woman does not insulate it from racism; does not excuse its anti-Blackness."
glossier racism retail employees

Glossier is the latest brand to be accused of racism and troubling company culture by former employees, joining the likes of Everlane, Reformation and Refinery29.

The accusations surfaced when a group of former retail employees formed a collective called Outta the Gloss and published an open letter to Medium and Instagram (via an account which now has more than 5,700 followers) detailing their experiences with racism, unhygienic working conditions and generally being treated as disposable. 

Like former employees at a number of other millennial- and Gen Z- focused companies that have come under fire recently, the Outta the Gloss collective highlighted a discrepancy between the inclusive-seeming image the brand projected outwardly and their own experiences of the company from the inside.

"We were worn down by the contrast of the idyllic culture presented to us online... and the weight of our daily indignities," the collective wrote.

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The former retail employees, called "editors" at the company, detailed a number of incidents with customers: a man massaging an editor without her consent, a woman who repeatedly came into the store and called Latinx employees "illegals," another who grabbed the face of a Black editor to "show off" her complexion to a friend. In most cases, the collective said, employees had come to expect little to no intervention from management in the face of such interactions. 

Beyond that, working conditions for retail employees were also substandard. Former editors described working in the space while it was still under construction (and overhearing an inspector say "the dumb girls in the pink don't even know what kind of fumes they are inhaling"); violating occupation limits for the showroom with the sales team alone, much less customers; taking lunch breaks on a "floor riddled with rat waste because we retail employees lacked a break room of our own."

Ultimately, the former employees concluded that one of the company's frequently-cited qualities — that it was started by a woman — "does not insulate it from racism; does not excuse its anti-Blackness and work culture that renders its broadest tier of employees disposable." Outta the Gloss went on to make a list of demands from the company that includes everything from anti-racism training to more transparency around salaries.

Glossier responded by posting a slideshow to Instagram that included "an apology and a public acknowledgement of the pain and discomfort these former colleagues experienced," along with a number of plans for change in the future, including managers receiving de-escalation training to deal with inappropriate customer interactions and the implementation of town halls for employees to voice their concerns in the future.

A representative from Glossier declined to provide any additional comment beyond the public statement to Fashionista.

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