American fashion brand Tommy Hilfiger has announced that it is launching a new platform in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, which will seek to advance the representation of Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC) working within the fashion and creative industries.
Dubbed the ‘People's Place Program’, the initiative takes its name from Tommy Hilfiger’s first store which opened in 1969 in Hilfiger’s hometown of Elmira, New York, and will have an initial minimum commitment of 5 million US dollars in annual funding for the next three years.
“What is happening to Black communities in the US and around the world has no place in our society,” said Tommy Hilfiger in a statement. “The fact that it has continued to exist in our industry, overtly and systemically, is unacceptable. We are far behind where we should be in achieving diverse representation.”
Hilfiger, added: “It shouldn’t have taken us this long to acknowledge that, but we are determined and committed to changing it going forward. We will be intentional, fearless and unwavering in the actions we take. Through the People’s Place Program, we will use our platform to create opportunities and stand up for what is right.”
The initiative will centre around partnerships, career access and industry leadership, utilising a three-pillared strategy to achieve “consistent, long-term change,” added the PVH Corp-owned company.
Tommy Hilfiger responds to Black Lives Movement with a new initiative to advance the representation fo Black people working in fashion
The first pillar is partnerships and representation where the brand will enhance its diverse talent pipeline, focusing on “purpose-led collaborations” that specifically increase minority visibility, as well as introducing partnerships with organisations and creative peers whose mission is to advance BIPOC representation and equity in the fashion industry.
The second pillar is dedicated to career support and industry access to advance representation of minority communities within the fashion and creative industries. Tommy Hilfiger states that it will use its “knowledge and resources” to ensure career opportunities by providing access to information or physical materials, specialist advice, and industry introductions.
The final pillar is regarding industry leadership and to help increase representation at every level, Tommy Hilfiger has stated that it will commit to “independent, industry-wide analyses of diversity, equity and inclusion in the fashion industry, and will work towards creating concrete action plans to use internally that can also be shared with the broader fashion industry”.
The launch of this programme follows Hilfiger’s personal call to action for himself and his namesake business in response to the Black Lives Matter movement at the end of May, which he states “instigated a shift towards a culture of greater listening, learning and engaging both internally and with the fashion industry to better understand the role the brand should play to support BIPOC communities”.
To oversee the ‘People’s Place Program’ project, the brand said that it is building a governance structure to “ensure its success” formed of senior leadership members, who will be appointed to direct the initiative, accelerate its growth internally and externally, and “maintain focus on transparency through regular reporting on progress and impact made”.
The 'People’s Place Program’ team is currently engaging in discussions with industry peers and partners who can help advance the platform mission and maximise impact throughout the fashion landscape.
Martijn Hagman, chief executive at Tommy Hilfiger Global and PVH Europe, added: “As a company, we haven’t done enough. But we are determined to do better. We are taking immediate action to ensure that BIPOC communities in the fashion industry feel represented, heard and equally welcome to their seat at the table.
“The People’s Place journey starts now with a dedicated internal governance structure that will drive and report regularly on the long-term objectives of the platform. This is a firm commitment and first step in a long journey for what the People’s Place Program can achieve.”
Tommy Hilfiger launches an internal ‘Comprehensive Action Plan’ to become a “less biased” organisation
The luxury brand also stated that it has launched a 'Comprehensive Action Plan’ to ensure “immediate internal strides to become a more informed, less biased organisation with a strong sense of belonging” in an effort to address what it calls its “shortcomings in its internal BIPOC representation”.
The plan will act as a starting point to address discrimination, injustice, inequality and racism, added the brand, and will include creating more opportunities for all associates to listen and be heard, as well as equipping leaders and hiring managers at all levels with tools and resources to develop a deeper understanding of systemic racism, privilege and bias to become stronger allies and advocates for change.
In addition, the company will be rolling out mandatory continuous unconscious bias training to all associates, building a dedicated inclusion and diversity digital resource channel accessible to all associates, as well as launching an educational and informational event series for associates on racial justice.
The final layer of the plan will be for the company to “act” with Broadening Business Resource Groups (BRGs) to include regional chapters dedicated to advancing, empowering and amplifying BIPOC voices in our offices around the world, as well as attracting more diverse talent by evolving recruitment policies and practices, casting a wider net and thoughtfully increasing representation at all levels of the organisation.
Image: courtesy of Tommy Hilfiger