Black in Fashion Council releases index of lack of racial equality in industry

In partnership with The Human Rights Campaign, Black in Fashion Council released its first “Black in Fashion” index, measuring company policies and practices related to the inclusiveness of black employees.

A total of 30 companies participated in the report, each with anonymity to allow for complete honesty. Participants received a survey focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion policies and practices. Each company also took the Black in Fashion Pledge, a three-year commitment to participate in the survey.

Participants varied in size, ranging from large companies to small private sector organizations, with measures designed to be achievable regardless of size and funding. Companies were analyzed on the basis of four criteria: non-discrimination in the workplace, building an inclusive culture, engaging the black community and corporate social responsibility.

Of the 30 participants, 40 percent said they had either professional development programs or mentoring / sponsorship for under-represented minority groups. As part of building an inclusive culture, 70 percent of respondents had an employee resource group or diversity and inclusion board.

By referring to community engagement, companies have apparently reported positive results. In total, 77 percent of the participants said they had carried out targeted recruitment of black talent, while 80 percent said they regularly carried out philanthropic initiatives for the black community.

An encouraging 83 percent of those polled suggested tracking minority representation through employees, but only 40 percent said they released the results publicly.

Overall, the report suggests that there are still major areas in which companies need to adapt. The BIFC said it “aims to challenge racist policies and corporate structures that actively hamper the progress and recognition of blacks in fashion.”

He added, “Although blackness is often commodified for profit, black people, black experiences, and black voices rarely receive an underperforming platform in the fashion industry.”

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