By Brecken Branstrator
New York—Consumers are increasingly attuned to patronizing businesses that align with their values, and review site Yelp has taken note.

According to a Yelp blog post, reviews mentioning Black-owned businesses were up more than 617 percent this summer compared with last summer, and review mentions for women-owned businesses have also risen, increasing 114 percent.

But while searches for Black-owned business surged on Yelp, aided by new initiatives like a Black-owned business attribute and a pledge to amplify Black businesses in retail stores, the site said it also saw more reviews warning users about racist behaviors.

To address this, especially as the issue of race stays at the forefront of discussions nationwide, Yelp has launched a new consumer alert designed to warn shoppers about these behaviors.

“As the nation reckons with issues of systemic racism, we’ve seen in the last few months that there is a clear need to warn consumers about businesses associated with egregious, racially charged actions to help people make more informed spending decision,” Yelp said.

Now when a business gets public attention in connection with racist conduct, like using racist language or symbols, Yelp will place a “Business Accused of Racist Behavior Alert” on its Yelp page along with a link to more information about the incident, as pictured below.

20201016 Yelp insert

The new alert is an extension of Yelp’s “Public Attention Alert,” which it said it launched in response to the rise in social activism concurrent with the Black Lives Matter movement.

If someone associated with a business is accused of or the target of racist behavior, Yelp will place a Public Attention Alert on the business’ page to let consumers know it might be seeing more reviews because of “increased attention,” temporarily disabling the ability to post as Yelp confirms all content reflects first-hand experiences.

For those businesses accused of overtly racist actions, though, and where Yelp can provide a link to a news report as an update, it will elevate the warning to the new alert, it said.

Yelp noted it has seen a 133 percent increase in the number of “media-fueled incidences” on its site so far in 2020 when compared with the same period last year.

And, between May 26 and Sept. 30, the site placed more than 450 alerts on pages of businesses either accused of or the target of racist behavior.

To help businesses that want to create a more inclusive environment for employees and consumers alike but might not have the resources, Yelp has partnered with Open to All, a nonprofit campaign uniting behind the message of inclusivity by raising awareness and understanding of nondiscrimination laws, to launch a business toolkit.

It includes a 60-minute “unlearning bias” training video for employees, outreach language for customers and employees, social media assets, and more.

Yelp also now provides business with the opportunity to mark their pages with an “Open to All” attribution on the site.

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