After facing backlash for a racially insensitive sweater, Gucci has taken steps to show they are serious about diversity and inclusion.
What We Know:
- In February, Gucci released a Balaclava sweater that mimicked blackface and caught a lot of backlash. The sweater was removed from their collection. It also infuriated many because this sweater was revealed during Black History Month. Despite issuing an apology, many people, including celebrities like T.I. and Spike Lee called for a boycott of Gucci’s products.
— K E I S H (@MikeishaDache) February 6, 2019
- In an effort to save face, Gucci announced a four-step plan to promote diversity and inclusion awareness within the company. The four-step plan involved the “hiring of global and regional directors for diversity and inclusion, multicultural design fellowship program, a diversity and inclusion awareness program, and a global exchange program.”
- Following in the footsteps of Chanel, Gucci announced the new position of Global Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Unlike Chanel, this position will be given to a woman of color, Renée Tirado. Tirado used to be the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer for Major League Baseball.
- Tirado released a statement regarding her plans for her position. She plans on initiating new conversations like “How are we doing with the workforce diversity agenda? How can we bring more diverse people into not only Gucci but the fashion industry more broadly? How do we provide a level playing field for those new employees to compete and be the future leaders of the industry?”
- Tirado will be in charge of the three programs referenced previously in Gucci’s four-step plan and also plans to build on existing initiatives like the Changemakers program. This program, which was announced in March, is a “community fund and scholarship program for North America alongside a global volunteering program.”
- Hiring a Diversity Officer is becoming a trend in the fashion world. In addition to Chanel, Prada and Burberry have also added these positions to their companies. A study done by McKinsey & Company, a management consultant firm, concluded that “companies with more ethnically diverse executive teams are 33% more likely to outperform competitors.”
- In an interview with Forbes, Ronald Milon, the Chief Diversity Officer at the Fashion Institute of Technology, advised that “[a chief diversity officer] is common in higher education, but given social media and consumer demands, it’s now placed more pressure on companies and corporations to do the same thing.”
This is a step in the right direction for Gucci.