BFC publishes inaugural diversity, equity and inclusion report

BFC Publishes Inaugural Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Report

Co-Authored by the British Fashion Council, the Outsiders Perspective, the (Fashion) Minority Report, and McKinsey & Co.

The British Fashion Council has launched its inaugural Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion report, which assesses the current realities of representation within the UK’s fashion industry and provide actionable steps forward.

Coauthored by the British Fashion Council, the Outsiders Perspective, the (Fashion) Minority Report and McKinsey & Co., the report presents data findings from an industry-wide survey, 11 leadership interviews with the likes of Yoox Net-a-porter’s ad interim chief executive officer Alison Loehnis and Jimmy Choo’s chief executive officer Hannah Colman, and a study of more than 70 UK fashion companies.

The report pointed to a discrepancy that was already widely noted within the industry. While fashion’s public-facing side may have made great strides for inclusion and diversity, the situation is dramatically different when it comes to its workforce, especially at higher levels and leadership positions. Its findings reveal that only 9 percent of executives and board members in the British fashion industry are held by people of color, and 39 percent by women. Only 11 percent of the executive team and board “power roles” – namely chief executive officer, chief financial officer, and creative director – are held by people of color, and 24 percent by women.

Furthermore, the report revealed that this disparity is not widely acknowledged by those in majority positions: 86 percent of white men in the industry believe the industry is diverse, while only 46 percent of women of color hold the same view.

The report goes on to identify an inherent link between leadership diversity and company success, with businesses that have a diverse leadership team being 39 percent more likely to financially outperform than those that don’t. However, it also adds that industry leaders may be less aware of the scale of the DEI challenge, as only 17 percent of British companies consistently publish quantitative DEI targets.

This is a wake-up call for all of us – we as an industry need to embrace DEI as a lever for advantage. It is critical for brands and organisations to align their external messaging and internal practices to authentically and tangibly contribute to DEI goals.”

– Caroline Rush, British Fashion Council Chief Executive

The report follows up its diagnostic data by identifying three key actionable targets for British fashion companies to make progress. These steps are to “lead from the top” by consciously setting a concrete DEI strategy, to “get the data” by collecting diversity data, and to create “systems and pathways” that can implement DEI strategy and phase out discrepancies – such as, for example, removing potential bias by utilizing gender-neutral language in job listings or committing to maintain diverse interview panels.

Daniel Peters, founder of the (Fashion) Minority Report, Caroline Rush, Chief Executive of the British Fashion Council, and Jamie Gill, founder of the Outsiders Perspective