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Black in Fashion Council release index reporting lack of racial equality in industry

By Rachel Douglass

7 Oct 2021

Business

Image: Dries Van Noten SS22

In partnership with The Human Rights Campaign, Black in Fashion Council has released its first ‘Black in Fashion’ index, measuring company policies and practices related to the inclusivity of Black employees.

A total of 30 businesses took part in the report, with each granted anonymity to allow for complete honesty. Participants were presented with a survey centred around diversity, equity and inclusion policies and practices. Each company additionally took the Black in Fashion Pledge, a three year commitment to take part in the survey.

Participants ranged in size, from large corporations to small private sector organisations, with measures designed to be attainable regardless of size and finance. Companies were analysed based on four criteria: workplace non-discrimination, building an inclusive culture, engaging the black community and corporate social responsibility.

Out of the 30 participants, 40 percent reported having either professional development programmes or mentoring/sponsorships for underrepresented minority groups. As part of building an inclusive culture, 70 percent of respondents had Employee Resource Group or a Diversity and Inclusion council.

Referencing community engagement, companies seemingly reported positive results. A total of 77 percent of participants stated they conducted targeted recruitment to Black talents, while 80 percent said they regularly carry out philanthropic initiatives for the Black community.

An encouraging 83 percent of surveyees suggested they track representation of minorities through employees, yet only 40 percent stated they publish the results publicly.

Overall, the report suggests that there are still some major areas where companies need to adapt. The BIFC stated that it “aims to challenge the racist policies and corporate structures that actively impede the progress and acknowledgement of Black people in fashion”.

It added: “Although Blackness is often commodified for profit, Black people, Black experiences and Black voices are rarely given a non-performative platform in the fashion industry.”