Black in Fashion Council – Diversity for the long-term change

The summer of 2020 has brought about a reckoning over racism and diversity around the world.

The push for change has also seeped into the world of business, as blacks take employers to task for abusive and exclusionary behavior in the workplace.

The drive for change has spread also to the world of fashion.

Almost two years ago, Lindsay Peoples Wagner, Teen Vogue editor-in-chief, wrote “What It’s Like To Be Black In Fashion,” a critically acclaimed and widely shared article in New York Magazine. As a result of her extensive reporting, she realized that the solution was systemic change.

Black in Fashion Council
Black in Fashion Council founders Lindsay Peoples Wagner and Sandrine Charles. Courtesy of Lindsay Peoples Wagner and Sandrine Charles

A few months ago, Peoples Wagner together with public relations specialist Sandrine Charles, founded the Black in Fashion Council.

What is the Black in fashion Council?

The Black in fashion Council is a collective, which represents and secures the advancement of black individuals in the fashion and beauty industries.

It envisions a world in which black people in the fashion and beauty spaces can be open and honest. Can see guaranteed equal rights and be celebrated for their voices,” according to its website.

What do they do?

The council will help to hold partner companies accountable for making internal changes regarding diversity and inclusion. Thirty-eight worldwide-known brands signed up to participate in the program.

“Brands have pledged a commitment to work with the Black in Fashion Council for the next three years and work with the Human Rights Campaign to put policies into practice further to demonstrate their commitment to black employees at all levels,” the BIFC statement reads.

Thirty-eight major players, including Condé Nast, L’Oreal and Tiffany & Co have committed to work with the Black in Fashion Council over the next three years.

“By organizing a resilient group of editors, models, stylists, media executives, freelance creatives, and industry stakeholders, we aim to build a new foundation for inclusivity,” the organization stated.

Why should Tiffany & Co. take part in it?

Tiffany is a global brand with a marketing positioning starting from $100 to whoever knows.

It is one of the most acclaimed brands able to attract billionaires and young generations. Different levels of culture, wealth and needs. To maintain its leading position the brand has to embrace and satisfy both target needs. Even more in a moment when young generations are raising their voice against the system.

Diversity and inclusion are fundamental for Generation Z.

Tiffany partners with Black in Fashion Council
Tiffany & CO with Black in Fashion Council

Why diversity is so important for Generation Z?

They were born between 1995 and 2012. According to Deloitte’s Generation Z survey, they make up 24.3% of the U.S. population and are on track to be the most diverse generation in US history by 2020.

Gen Z makes up more than a quarter of the U.S. population and will contribute $44 billion to the national economy.

  • Gen Z is the most ethnically and racially diverse generation in history. One in four is Hispanic, 14% are African-American and 6% are Asian, according to studies led by the Pew Research Center.
  • Their views on gender and identity are unprecedented and untraditional: Gen Z refuses to turn ethnicity and race into checkboxes.
  • Diversity is the watchword for Gen Z. Diversity matters to them through many dimensions, not just isolated to race and gender, but also related to identity and orientation.
  • Gen Z prioritizes diversity —across race, gender, and orientation— more than any other generation and companies should as well. Gen Z is also the most likely generation to have individuals that identify as non-binary/third gender.
  • Gen Z no longer forms opinions of a company solely based on the quality of their products/services but also now on their ethics, practices and social impact.

To win the hearts of Gen Z, companies and employers will need to highlight their efforts to be good global citizens. Companies must demonstrate their commitment to a broader set of societal challenges, such as sustainability, climate change and hunger.

Not only must companies have strong ethics, they have to demonstrate they take action consistent with their ethics and values, and this action must be front and center of their brand for prospective Gen Z buyers.

As a result, companies need to represent the full spectrum of humans in marketing: Many Gen Z minorities feel their race isn’t well represented in marketing. Companies that can better represent the spectrum of differences in their external branding/marketing are much more likely to win the game.

What to expect?

Going back to Tiffany’s decision to embrace the Black in fashion Council, now it is clearer where this choice comes from.

According to the brand’s Linkedin profile: “We have an unwavering dedication to diversity and inclusion and promise to continue sharing our company’s ongoing efforts.”

Big brands are shaping the future and are catalysts of change. Big companies have a profound responsibility in driving the future in the right direction. Allocating funds to social inclusion and diversity activities rather than standard once can really accelerate the change and make the difference.

Let’s accelerate the change and slow down the system.

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