Health and Beauty retailer Clicks continues to come under fire after an offensive hair advert which sparked outrage on Friday.
Some supporters of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have heeded the call by leader Julius Malema for the closure of Clicks stores on Monday. There have been protests outside some stores of the retailer across the country.
Clicks says their operations on Monday will be going on as normal.
The company website published a TRESemmé advert labelling black people’s hair “dull, damaged and dry” and white people’s hair as “normal”.
Clicks apologised for the advertisement and said it was taking the situation seriously. Speaking on Bongani Bingwa’s Breakfast Show on 702, CEO of Clicks Vikesh Ramsunder said he was shocked when he saw the ad. Adding he was only made aware of the ad after his team informed him about it and the outrage that followed.
“I still have a lot of work to do in the company, people still have unconscious and conscious biases. I was amazed that this was not picked up by our employees, really.”
Ramsunder explained they receive a lot of material from their manufacturers and that there is a process from their online team to look at the material before it was published. He said the necessary oversight that should have happened with this TRESemmé advert did not occur due to their long-standing partnership.
“I am definitely not making excuses for that, I certainly can’t blame TRESemmé. We definitely did not prepare or develop the material, the most significant failure on our side was loading it without finding an exception to it.”
Much of their content which is digital is signed off by junior staff members who have now been suspended.
“That is massive learning, certainly for myself and the organisation and we will put in place robust processes in place immediately to make sure this doesn’t repeat itself… We should have been thorough. This is terrible material, it should have never have been put on our website,” he said.
Bongani then pressed the CEO, saying if they were blaming the juniors, then this was a representation of top management in the organisation and that they were not as transformed as they should be.
Ramsunder explained that, as CEO, he had seen the organisation transform over the years, but that they still had a lot of work to do.
“I cannot take back what has happened. What I can do is take the learnings out of this and make reparations internally to make sure that senior members are trained. Any person who would have seen that [ad] in a few minutes or seconds would have seen how racially insensitive it is.”