Victoria’s Secret & Co. joined the growing ranks of companies pledging to increase the amount of business they do with Black-owned firms and to promote more Black workers.

The lingerie giant said it is working with the Fifteen Percent Pledge organization to gather data and establish a system with the aim of eventually reaching a point where 15 per cent of its suppliers are Black-owned firms, up from around 1 per cent to 2 per cent currently. Those suppliers include everything from food and beverage vendors at events to third-party brands sold through its online collaborations.

The retailer has been trying to reset its image after years of criticism over its marketing strategies, lack of size-inclusive products and misogynistic corporate culture. With the rise of new competitors like ThirdLove and Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty, Victoria’s Secret has lost value and relevance, especially among younger shoppers. The company was spun off from parent L Brands in August with its own board made up of mostly women. 

“I’m a firm believer in what gets measured gets done,” Chief Diversity Officer Lydia Smith said of the retailer’s latest diversity efforts. 

The Fifteen Percent Pledge, launched in 2020 in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, calls on retailers to make their businesses more representative of the US Black population. Almost 30 companies have signed on so far, according to the organization.

Smith said in an interview that she wanted to simplify the diversity and inclusion strategy since joining Victoria’s Secret from Kohl’s Corp. a year ago. New employee resource groups were started, more listening sessions were scheduled to gather worker input, and there’s more focus now on making sure product launches are culturally relevant.

As part of its work with the Fifteen Percent Pledge, Victoria’s Secret said it will also commit to giving more promotions to Black employees. Black associates currently make up 10.8 per cent of the company’s total promotions, Smith said. By 2027, the company aims to make that 15 per cent.

Victoria’s Secret doesn’t disclose how many Black workers it employs, unlike many of its peers. The retailer said it will publish updates on its diversity progress later this year after releasing its first ESG report in April. Companies are increasingly willing to share detailed information on race and gender so that it is easier to show that they are making progress on their promises.