Diversity & Inclusion
Diversity and inclusion have not always been synonymous with the fashion industry, but in 2018 fashion finally “got woke.” Millennials and Gen Zers, the industry’s new generation of consumers, are much more politically active and brands are now realizing that to stay relevant, they need to take a stand on racism, gun control and socio-political issues. The age of ‘corporate neutrality’ is over.
I have always been interested in fashion, ever since I was 9 years old. As an Afro-Latino woman, I always wondered why models on the runway didn’t look like me. Curves and color were not exactly popular in the industry as I was growing up in the 1980s and 90s. So, you can imagine how exciting this moment in fashion is for me. However, I am still concerned about things that happen (or don’t) behind the scenes.
I started working in the fashion industry in 2005, and I can assure you that corporate positions at internationally acclaimed fashion houses are not very diverse. In 2017, Business of Fashionexamined 15 of the largest public companies in fashion. They concluded that, “the vast majority (73 percent) are led by white male chief executives. On average, men and women of any ethnic minority represented only 11 percent of the board of directors at these companies.”
This is an extremely low statistic. Brands cannot adopt a language of inclusion and diversity in their marketing campaigns without extending this inclusivity to the boardroom and to the business branch of a company. According to a McKinsey & Company report entitled, “Delivering through Diversity”, companies with the most ethnically/culturally diverse boards are 43% more likely to deliver higher profits, because they are more likely to attract and retain talent, as well as improve customer service decisions.” So, why are fashion’s corporate offices not more on board with diversity when it benefits everyone? Hopefully, that will begin to change.
We not only need representation of ethnically diverse people at magazines, on runways, and in ad campaigns, we also need fashion managers of different cultures, color, size, age and gender. Choosing people who represent the world in which we currently live, and who understand, first hand, the needs of different types of consumers, has proven to be more profitable for those brands who have become more inclusive.
Here at MJN Consulting Services we help brands manage their diversity and inclusion within their companies. Come and take advantage of our 30 min complimentary consultation to find out more.
Martha J. Nieto