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Why fashion needs chief diversity officers

The role of the chief diversity officer is new to fashion — and potentially fleeting.


Vogue Business | November 21, 2019


  

The Vogue Business article, “Why fashion needs chief diversity officers,” featured the firm's paper, "A Leader’s Guide: Finding and Keeping Your Next Chief Diversity Officer." The article is excerpted below.

For the world’s leading fashion brands, chief diversity officers have become a hot hire. And with good reason.

H&M appointed Annie Wu to the role after an image of a black boy wearing a hoodie with the words “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” sparked allegations of racism in 2018. Gucci hired its first chief diversity officer following outrage in February over a black balaclava sweater with a cutout mouth resembling oversized red lips. Prada assembled a diversity and inclusion council after a Manhattan storefront displayed monkey figures that were said to evoke blackface stereotypes last December. Nike, Macy’s, Burberry and Chanel have all appointed diversity hires in the past two years.

Within the fashion industry, the role is relatively new. Of the 47 per cent of S&P 500 companies with chief diversity officers, 63 per cent were appointed within the past three years, according to Russell Reynolds Associates. (Reps at Burberry, Chanel and Gucci declined to make their diversity chiefs available for interviews, citing the recentness of their appointments.)

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But the commercial impact of grooming diverse talent can take time to show up on a balance sheet. That may be why many time-pressed business leaders treat diversity and inclusion goals as low priorities in practice despite their public support, Russell Reynolds Associates has found.

To read the full article, click here.