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International Fashion House, Zara Accused of Racially Profiling Black Shoppers & Discriminating against its Black Employees

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Black Shopper - BellaNaija - June2015_001

According to reports, International fashion house Zara is being accused of not just racially profiling & discriminating against its Black customers and employees; but it also has a code name for it.

Based on a new report by the Center for Popular Democracy, which had a survey of a number of New York-based Zara employees, “Darker-skinned employees report that they are least likely to be promoted” and “Employees of color state that they are reviewed with harsher scrutiny from management than white American and European employees.” The survey also suggests that racial profiling and discrimination was taught as part of its employee training program.

The employees stated that the phrase “Special Order” was used to alert other workers to a customer who is a potential shoplifting threat. 47% of the 57% of employees that responded to the survey, said that Black customers were always labeled as “Special Order”; and 36% agreed that Black customers were most likely the ones to be labeled as potential shoplifters. According to Refinery 29, who first reported the story – “The reports claims that “special orders were […] defined as ‘Anyone who looks Black, not put together, or urban.’

However, despite the claims made by its employees, Zara stands by its views on diversity. In a statement to Refinery 29 they stated – “Zara USA vehemently refutes the claims contained in the Center for Popular Democracy report, which was prepared with ulterior motives and not because of any actual discrimination or mistreatment. It fails to follow an acceptable methodology for the conduct of a credible objective survey on workplace practices, and instead appears to have taken an approach to achieve a predetermined result, which was to discredit Zara.

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What do you think BellaNaijarians? Share your thoughts on the case against Zara.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime/Fernandes Borges Michel

Jennifer is the Beauty Editor & Style Representative of BellaNaija.com. Get in touch - Send an email to: beauty(at)bellanaija.com or style(at)bellanaija.com | Follow us on Instagram: @bellanaijabeauty OR @bellanaijastyle | Follow us on Twitter: @bellanaijastyle

49 Comments

  1. cindy

    June 24, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    Na to just sidon for my country jejely. No body will treat me anyhow here for my skin colour except they one chop slap.

  2. Me

    June 24, 2015 at 7:44 pm

    No be all this black American/black British dey spoil the black race especially black Americans.. Can’t blame Zara doe but that’s not enough to racially profile people because what these people don’t get is that we Africans are way different than the blacks born and bred abroad….all the same let’s not hate let’s all make ourselves better version of ourselves to make the world a better place

    • Evly

      June 24, 2015 at 10:56 pm

      I don’t understand what you are trying to say… There is serious racism in the western world and it’s not because of what anybody did. The white people think they are the superior race and that’s why they try to make black people feel inferior. They do everything to restrict the growth and development of the black race both economically and mentally and this has gone on in every sector of their economy. This has gone on for generations and generations. It’s up to us as a people to build ourselves and support our race. As the saying goes, nobody will love you if you don’t love yourself.

    • BlueEyed

      June 25, 2015 at 2:08 am

      This condescending attitude Africans have over African Americans is just too stupid. So because you are African, you are more morally inclined?? even wealthy Africans shopping abroad still get profiled, so nobody is spoiling any race, these people have already grouped the black race and that’s not gonna change.

  3. CEO

    June 24, 2015 at 7:55 pm

    If this is true then it’s no big deal. Black people should boycott Zara straight up. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

  4. Mabel

    June 24, 2015 at 7:58 pm

    I never felt comfortable in this store, there is an air of something, can’t put my finger on it. The only black person I saw working in this store where I’m at was the security. Once was enough for me.

  5. Deedara

    June 24, 2015 at 8:03 pm

    I don’t find the report hard to believe at all. Many retailers discriminate against black shoppers and I’ve definitely felt extra scrutinised and watched in Zara and other shops. Prejudice and stereotypes are alive and well, and sadly I think they always will be.

  6. A Real Nigerian

    June 24, 2015 at 8:18 pm

    So?
    Many Blacks there have hard lives and are mostly connected with crimes involving petty theft. What is the big deal if blacks are labelled as potential shoplifters? It’s all about being on the safe side.
    It’s all about what your race, ethnicity and/or religion are connected to. Just like the Igbos are known for being dubious, the Ogonis are known for being extremely fetish, the Yorubas are known for being comfortable with dirtiness, muslims are known for suicide bombing and so on. Yes, no single group should be the defined by downsides of some members, but hey, it’s just about being cautious.
    People have to put that into consideration, doesn’t necessarily mean discrimination.
    No big deal here. People overreact too much.

    • NoZaraInNigeria

      June 24, 2015 at 9:32 pm

      It is a big deal when you are spending your hard earned money. Just because someoone steals doesnt mean the whole race steals. Its funny how I was in Zara one day and the security guy was watching me like a hawk and I saw a filipino mother steal a dress and put it in her daughter’s carriage.

    • Morire

      June 25, 2015 at 12:49 pm

      Are you minding the Ode? This real Nigerian forming voltron here is one of the useless people that say yes sir yes sir for Indian man in Nigeria. Carry his bag and run stupid errands. If they manage to reach Europe or America, they live like slaves. Why would the white man not look down on black people? Real Nigerian SLAVE

    • debs

      June 25, 2015 at 3:00 am

      Ode talk. How many people from all these tribes you listed have you had such experience with to make such conclusion? I can bet you have never traveled overseas; if not you would understand how disheartening this experience is. When you are treated like a thief just cos of your skin color, and you know you have never stolen in your life before, is when you will understand the issue discussed here. It’s not compulsory to comment; just move to the next story and save yourself the stress.

    • Polypoly

      June 25, 2015 at 5:54 am

      @a real nigerian – Hey stunt Queen!! Today am not with u on this one. Ur comment is very disrespectful to all the ethnic groups/ muslims/races mentionen, smh!
      You want lgbt people to be treated fairly and not discriminated against but here you are advocating racial profiling based on flimsy stereotypes to be used when people are spending hard earned money.
      You obviously dont live in North America or Europe. Mess

    • AW

      June 25, 2015 at 5:54 am

      @A Real Nigerian, it is a big deal when you are genuinely going about your business. Zara is big on discriminating against blacks. I am regularly trailed around the shop by security anytime I go in to shop. On one occasion I went in to pick an online order, I was asked to produce a means of identification, which was fine with me and the normal thing to do. It became an issue when Owen, Imogen and co who were also waiting to collect their items, were simply asked for order number. No proof identification needed, simply because they are white. The funny thing is I think those people are more likely to have a criminal record than me. But my skin colour dictated otherwise to the Zara employee!

    • datiboboy...

      June 25, 2015 at 7:38 am

      …and the whites, racially profiled or known for what? Shut a f**k up. It is wrrrrrong! I bet u never experienced any.

    • me

      June 25, 2015 at 8:54 am

      @A Real Nigerian ure jst an idiot .I hav always refrained myself from saying this after reading your comments most times. Pray tell how it isnt a big deal for people to generalise a group of people based on their myopic sight/thinking? Òde oshi who managed to get a fone nd tye nonsense.

  7. BEAUTIFULNBLESSED

    June 24, 2015 at 8:48 pm

    NA WA O………THIS RACISM THING, GOD IS ALIVE.

  8. rs

    June 24, 2015 at 8:53 pm

    not surprised!!!!!! add topShop to the list

  9. me

    June 24, 2015 at 9:27 pm

    If them tell una make una go primark una no go gree ?. For real though….. profiling is a security thing, zara has very few unique items I like, would this stop me from shopping there, no. If I have a business that requires extreme contact with people, I will profile and teach my staff how to profile.

  10. MM

    June 24, 2015 at 9:45 pm

    I did a temporary work for Zara during the holidays and let me tell you these people are full of it. After we finished working in the evening the manager for my shift told everyone that was working just for that day (95% black) to open all our purses before we could leave the store. it was ridiculous. She also stationed someone at the door to look at us up and down as we exit- as if we were hiding something under our cloths.
    So yes I believe this story. Zara discriminates against people of color

    • KateW

      January 7, 2016 at 10:05 am

      Bag check on the end of the day is a part of regular LP procedure every single Zara store in US is doing. Nothing special about your specific experience, except the fact you mentioned about 95% of your shift being of your race…that only supports Zara diverse employment policy.

  11. Nini

    June 24, 2015 at 10:16 pm

    Hermes too! Just last week I walked intently Hermes store in Monaco looking to get my mum a birthday gift and you won’t believe how the sales associate looked at me when I asked for Kelly in my choice color. This was after I had selected 2 silk scarfs and a cuff. And am like really “I do have a right to ask for a kelly bag even though am black!

    • Sunshine

      June 24, 2015 at 11:06 pm

      They did the same to Oprah at the Hermes Paris branch. The sales associate informted her not to buy a certain purse because its too expensive for her . But, the girl didnt know it was Oprah. Good luck ppl paying money to those that dont like their asses. I go low budget and spend my hard earned money where I am respected. Period

    • Mabel

      June 24, 2015 at 11:56 pm

      I believe Oprah said that the Hermes store in Paris locked the door when she tried to enter some years back, they did play it off that she came when they were already closed, you know they always put it back on you when you show them up.

      I wonder why we keep patronizing these places who do not welcome out presence in their establishments and deep down do not want our money. Most of them are making their shit for their people. Look at the design mockups if you ever see the pictorials showing a black face, never.

  12. Rolly

    June 24, 2015 at 11:04 pm

    Your comment is just so foolish, I’m not sure where exactly I should start replying from.
    Moving on, this is news to me as the stores in London are actually quite pleasant to visit. There are a number of blacks (dark skinned women actually) that work in the stores and others treat people respectfully- to my knowledge. Maybe because they know better than to try any nonsense here.
    African Americans are really treated like trash on their own soil. Pathetic really. And even if some of them engage in petty acts like shoplifting, is that enough reason to assume EVERY black shopper is a thief? That’s like assuming every white boy that enters a predominantly black Church is a murderer.

    • Rolly

      June 24, 2015 at 11:05 pm

      @A Real Nigerian refer to the comment above.

  13. like

    June 24, 2015 at 11:10 pm

    Zara is too far. I remember when note 3 first came out, I wanted to see it on display before making up my mind.At the Samsung shop before Swatch at Ikeja shopping mall, the lady said i couldn’t see it and told me the amount. My usual sef would have caused trouble but i left. Several weeks later, the woman attended to me when i was purchasing S4. Moral of the story – looks can be deceiving

  14. summer

    June 24, 2015 at 11:55 pm

    Hopefully they will have a massive sale to placate the unhappy customers!! *Now running to shop*

  15. Fums

    June 24, 2015 at 11:55 pm

    Bella Naija since when did Zara become an International Fashion House ?!!!
    I believe the term you were looking for was high street retailer or clothing retailer.

  16. aurora

    June 25, 2015 at 12:13 am

    This is so true. Was at 2 different zara stores like week and I felt so uncomfortable. Felt like I was being watched. Was supposed to be buying male shirts for a friend and the idea was to take pictures and send to him. Was so uncomfortable that I practically ran out of both stores. Told him they didn’t have any nice designs.
    Zara, zara, it is well o

  17. Joke

    June 25, 2015 at 12:39 am

    I don’t even know why this is news when it is the norm. That’s why it’s funny when Nigerians carry themselves like they are gold, carry designer this or that even on their heads for the whole world to see and blame African Americans for everything negative associated with black people. That’s just funny. As black people we are defined by the least of us. If you like continue to blame everything on the actions of some misguided African Americans. Regardless of what negatives they do, they are still regarded better than us Africans because we are still defined by negative images of the continent including corruption, and malnourished and practically naked kids and all…And don’t be deceived by Caucasians humoring us to think we’re better than African Americans to them. They are just smart at making us think we’re something special so they can get what they are really after…

    • nene

      June 25, 2015 at 2:03 pm

      gbam

  18. Dolly

    June 25, 2015 at 2:11 am

    This is so true, I worked for Zara stores across New York city, especially the one on 5th Ave 51st. I spent two years and i can tell you that’s straight up a Spanish company, not only do they profile blacks they also hired very few minorities so it doesn’t get labelled for discrimination. And oh your growth is stunted right from get go if you are black. If you happen to work hard they throw you in the stockroom where you work your ass off yet the laziest Spanish in the room is getting promoted while you are ignored.

    I could go on bout why I should be mad, but its of no use as God compensated me with a better job after that.

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      June 25, 2015 at 11:59 am

      I remember stopping by a Zara store in Barcelona, during a girlie holiday with a friend, and while we were there, a customer ran out of the changing rooms to raise the alarm because her bag had been stolen. She must have had the wrong size of whatever she took in with her and you know how you would usually just walk out for a quick minute to ask the sales attendant manning the changing rooms to please get the item for you in another size? It seemed that during that quick minute, someone reached in (and you know those changing room walls never reach the ground, so it could have been the person in the next stall) and snatched her bag. The police were called but in the chaos, the thief must have been long gone.

      And it was during the same visit to Barcelona that my friend’s passport & wallet got stolen from her own bag on our very last night. I won’t go into the long story (which actually ended in Glory because that very disruptive incident miraculously turned a lot of things around for her good) but since she had no passport and therefore no means of returning to the same Great Britain that we were both resident in, I had to leave Spain without her, she had to find her way from Barca to Madrid so she could get temporary documents from the Nigerian Consulate to fly to Nigeria from Spain (calculate all these completely unforeseen expenses, oh) and go make her case at the UK High Commission in Abuja. And she effectively lost her job in the UK because this absence from work lasted for nearly 6 weeks… they were polite about it but her position was made redundant after she finally returned. Like I said, long story.

      My point is that Spaniards really shouldn’t be pointing fingers at anyone to label them as criminals, as the other 4 fingers are likely to be pointing back. And I still refuse to return to Barcelona as that experience put a sour taste in my mouth regarding that city and the country in general. We, of black orientation, should also be allowed to criminally profile other racial types, not so?

    • MC

      June 26, 2015 at 3:01 am

      Barcelona is pickpocket central!!!!
      Hasn’t it got the highest rate in the world?

  19. zaracanada

    June 25, 2015 at 4:39 am

    OMG! I am not surprised, because i had never experienced my incident in any store until i went to zara one afternoon. On a weekday afternnon at Zara downtown on Queen street in Canada I was asked to leave a changeroom where I had been ushered into firdt by a zara’s sales associate for a customer because d service rep didnt want to make the woman with child on a stroller angry. Later on i spoke to the manager about it and asked is the change room not first come serve, so other customer should have waited her turn. Secondly, had i been the one with a child, would you have asked her to leave the changeroom for me. …the manager didnt even apologise saying it was reserved for people with strollers, really? I fould out later it was a senior staff who put me there in the firstplace…imagine that!

  20. Han

    June 25, 2015 at 4:48 am

    i Don’t blame them o. That’s how one black idiot entered where am working and request for iPhone charger, so I gave it to him and he said he wanted to show his gf at the other section of the store. I allowed him because I didn’t expect anyone to runaway with $9.99 charger o. This guy is still missing till today. Some black Americans are disgrace to whole black race. The other day i was waiting for my bus and these 2 grown up man and woman stole from dollar general. If you see the way they were running,

    • Asgrl

      June 25, 2015 at 12:38 pm

      I don’t know why Nigerians are this short sighted when it comes to issues of identity.

      so the actions of one idiot represents all African Americans?

      Are you a drug mule or 419er? Are members of your family fraudsters too? After all thats all you Nigerian “Princes” do.

  21. ACE

    June 25, 2015 at 8:35 am

    And I like some of their designes . its not fair at all. Everyone should be treated same, am not saying they shouldn’t be cautious but don’t hate me cos am black. I will take my shopping else where

    • Bella

      June 25, 2015 at 11:01 am

      No you won’t, that is the sad fact, we love their cars, clothes, houses, countries, goods – you name it, so you will not take your business elsewhere, until we build our own shops that will NOT discriminate against other groups. I don’t even see that happening anytime soon, so if it happens to Oprah, you suck it up and keep it moving.

    • nene

      June 25, 2015 at 2:05 pm

      gbam

  22. Psychic

    June 25, 2015 at 9:24 am

    on a friday,i missed my flight from abuja to lagos,after bawling my eyes out as the airport was a total mess that day and i was too rich for what i knew was going to happen,i eventually paid through my nostrils to get a business class seat on the 3rd flight out.Looking a mess,eyes swollen,i walked up to my business class seat that i didn’t want ,and this 9ja man refused to allow me move past him to my seat,perhaps i didn’t look the part,i was no dj-cuppy…Question 101: are u sure this is your seat? Sorry guys what is racism again…shior…i have just been reminded why i need to make so much money again….#okbye

    • nene

      June 25, 2015 at 2:06 pm

      sorry. people have become mean in this world. all this hate and discrimination is leading to the downfall of humanity. where is the love???smh

  23. Amh

    June 25, 2015 at 10:22 am

    Boycott zara. Very simple. Racist pig. Its high time we get value for our money. I hope one day. We blacks will only buy black. Enough of patronising this white worms. No interracial relationship. We partronise black biz and uplift ourselves. Am happy Nigerian music and movies are big hit with blacks all over the world with the exception of America. Am shocked when i see peeps from other African countries blasting davido. Timaya wizkid and all. We can do it. One day i pray.

    • AD

      June 25, 2015 at 1:03 pm

      “You BLACKS” are equally racist. Small minded individuals pay attention to racism then put themselves in the position to be racially discriminated against.

      Any racist person, White or Black, isn’t worth your time. If you don’t want to be stereotyped then you should behave civilised. Start with a smile!!! Every time I visit an African country I am welcomed with a poker face from the airport. I have to constantly remind myself I haven’t offended anyone, I’m simply in “Africa”.

      I doubt any “BLACKS, ASIANS, WHITES, GREENS, BLUES, (or whatever color you are)”, who smile and give the odd nod of acknowledgement or a well done nod to a retail assistant, public servant or a person doing hard labor no one else wants to do, get as much scrutiny as those who barge in on their high horses thinking “I’m the customer, therefore you are beneath me”.

      Stop playing the race card at any opportunity. Simply be blind to it or stop visiting their countries and build up your own.

    • Funmi

      June 25, 2015 at 1:06 pm

      I agree with you darling . We can do it and one day we will……..

  24. Mocha

    June 25, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    This is why as a black young lady living and working in the West, I make sure I am always on my A-game, dressed impeccably (not necessarily expensive) so that no riff-raff will mistakenly think they can look at me and spew rubbish. Sad that we have to put in the extra effort, but we must do what we can to change the stereotypes of ‘ghetto’, ‘angry’, ‘criminals’, etc. I see the look of surprise and respect I get when some folk realize I’m black, classy, and proud. (not touting my own horn, just trying to make a point).

  25. barca_girl

    June 25, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    I live in Spain, so I can tell you authoritatively that Zara is into racial profiling big time! No, here is the funny thing, the mother company of Zara – Inditex owns other stores – Uterque, Massimo Dutti, Pull&Bear, Bershka, Oysho and Stravidarius, and it is only is Zara that I have experienced any kind of ‘racial profiling’

    Uterque is very high end, so is 4 or 5 times more expensive than Zara. I love that store and I have been several times. I don’t recall any incident there, although I thin kthere was a time I went to Massimo Dutti to pick up something I bought online and go below par treatment.

    Spain is a backward country in comparison with other Western European countries, except Portugal. The civil war and the time after that under Franco caused a lot of damage. People here are not very exposed and a lot of the Africans here came through the desert or on canoes or migrant vessels. There is no comparison between the Africans in the UK and the US, even France and Germany with the ones here. A lot of the people here are illiterate/semi illiterates and prostitution and drug peddling/fraud is rife among Africans. Most men work in factories or in the unskilled labour sector. People are shocked when I tell them I am Nigerian and always ask where I grew up. When I mention the UK, they go – aha! you are not really like them! It breaks my heart when I hear that. Someone once told me they have never met a black professional in Spain. Imagine!

    I can tell you that ignorance runs deep here.

  26. Gentle Pace

    June 25, 2015 at 10:09 pm

    @ Ms Socially Awkward
    Sorry but I am kind of confused as to the correlation between your vacation in Spain and Discrimination by the retailer Zara. Were you profiled at the store where the lady’s bag was stolen? Because you mentioned nothing of the sort and I was wondering what your exact point was.

    • MC

      June 26, 2015 at 3:09 am

      Zara is a Spanish store/brand.

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