Clicks CEO, Vikesh Ramsunder, wrote an open letter about the incident that took place on Friday.
“As CEO of Clicks, I am deeply disappointed that we have allowed insensitive and offensive photos to be published on our website. I unconditionally apologize for the hurt and anger it caused.
“The emotional reactions of our customers are reflected by our employees and management teams. Although the supplier TRESemmé provided the photos and content to us, it does not absolve us from liability. That’s why we have taken responsibility for this misjudgment by apologizing publicly and removing the offensive material from our site immediately.
“Over the past few days, I have reflected deeply on what it means to be a proud South African corporate citizen and have consulted widely with diverse stakeholders to help me develop a comprehensive response to compensate for our mistake.
“The negligent employees have already been suspended and we spoke to the supplier, who has now also apologized. This incident underscored the need to audit all of our third-party promotional materials (and our own) for any implied or explicit prejudice, as well as the need to train our headquarters staff in diversity and inclusivity. It will be implemented urgently.
“This past weekend we convened an extraordinary council meeting to discuss our next steps. This includes prioritizing our training program on diversity and inclusivity. We will look at its content again, expand it and implement it with more urgency and focus.
“As a long-term proponent of natural hair, Clicks has invested heavily in the natural hair market over the past three years. We work with an extensive list of suppliers – more than 20 – to ensure we have more than 40 natural hair care ranges in our stores. Since 2005, we have expanded the number of natural hair products on our shelves by more than 4,000%.
“As a business, we can not change what happened, but we learn from it. We are committed to bringing about real, systemic change in our business, which proudly reflects that we are a true South African company.
“We have done a lot in terms of transformation. This issue has made it clear that there is still a lot for us to do.