Clicks taking 'positive' steps after advert outcry: Kathrada Foundation

09 September 2020 - 17:09 By nomahlubi sonjica
Clicks has told the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation that it will implement various 'proactive' measures to deal with racism.
Clicks has told the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation that it will implement various 'proactive' measures to deal with racism.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi/The Sunday Times

Clicks has committed to implementing “proactive” measures to prevent racial discrimination.

That's according to the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, which on Tuesday met representatives of the health and beauty retailer in the wake of public outrage over a racially offensive advert published on its website.

Clicks stores across the country have been closed, with some vandalised, during protests backed by the EFF.

The meeting was preceded by a letter from the foundation to Clicks.

“The meeting came as a result of a request by the [foundation] on Saturday after news broke of the racially offensive adverts that depicted black hair as 'dry and damaged',  as opposed to that of white hair as being 'flat and normal',” the foundation said in a statement.

Members of the EFF, led by deputy president Floyd Shivambu, protested outside the Clicks retail store in Sandton City as part of a nationwide protest on September 7 2020. This comes after the retail group released a TRESemmé advert on its website that has been condemned by the EFF as racist. Meanwhile, police are investigating several incidents across the country where stores were vandalised.

Clicks indicated that all employees responsible for enabling the advert to go live had been suspended and that a senior manager had resigned.

“The ... delegation were informed that Clicks would be implementing a number of proactive measures to prevent incidents such as this from recurring,” said the foundation's antiracism manager Busisiwe Nkosi. These include:

  • intensifying its diversity and inclusion efforts, especially at management level;
  • removing all TRESemmé products from their shelves and replacing them with locally sourced hair care brands;
  • re-evaluating their marketing division’s signing-off processes, especially for material on their social media platforms;
  • engaging with suppliers to enforce their ethical code of conduct;
  • working with the departments of labour and trade & industry to help develop the local beauty product market in SA; and
  • prioritising diversity and inclusion training programmes for head office staff.

“The action steps indicated by Clicks management are positive and need to be made as a public commitment with clear time frames,” said Nkosi.

The foundation’s executive director Neeshan Balton said: “While the anger and deep sense of disappointment at Clicks is valid, the tactic of using violence and intimidation to express this anger cannot not be condoned. Our response to issues of racism must not undermine our collective responsibility to uphold the constitution of SA.

“We have a responsibility to build the institutions developed to adjudicate on issues of racism and hate speech, just as much as we have to mobilise society to speak out against all issues of racism and bigotry.”

The foundation commended the public for ensuring that racism remained a “talking point”, and said it hoped “that the strong condemnation of the advert is translated into meaningful action against racism within the retail and advertising sector as a whole”.

“The foundation will support all action towards eradicating racism and will hold Clicks accountable to the commitments made,” added Balton.

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