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BFC publishes inaugural diversity, equity and inclusion report

By Danielle Wightman-Stone


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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 Credits: BFC

The British Fashion Council has coauthored a new report into the diversity in the UK fashion industry with the Outsiders Perspective, the (Fashion) Minority Report and McKinsey & Co.

The report marks the first comprehensive report on diversity, equity and inclusion in the fashion industry in the UK, presenting findings from industry-wide The UK Fashion DEI Census, 11 leadership interviews with the likes of Alison Loehnis, interim chief executive of Yoox Net-a-porter and designer Anya Hindmarch, as well as an in-depth study of 70 UK fashion companies.

The UK Fashion DEI report reveals that despite a demonstrable positive shift in fashion’s public-facing persona over the past 10 years, the sector can accomplish much more “by diversifying its corporate representation,” including executive positions.

Only 9 percent of executives and boards in the UK fashion industry are held by people of colour, and 39 percent by women. While 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 colour, and 24 percent by women.

At the same time, 86 percent of white men in the industry believe the industry is diverse, while 46 percent of women of colour hold the same view.

The report also notes there is an intrinsic link between leadership diversity and company performance, with businesses with a diverse leadership team being 39 percent more likely to financially outperform than those that don’t.

However, it also adds that fashion leaders may be less aware of the scale of the DEI challenge as so few companies keep track of their progress with only 17 percent of UK companies publishing quantitative DEI targets, compared to 56 percent that publishes sustainability targets.

UK Fashion DEI report finds diverse leadership teams more likely to financially outperform

Caroline Rush, chief executive of the British Fashion Council, said in a statement: “We must recognise that there is a key business opportunity in dismantling barriers, fostering inclusivity and ensuring we are truly listening to and amplifying underrepresented voices. Our report makes it clear that there are undeniable benefits of having a diverse workforce.

“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.”

The report also revealed three areas for UK companies to make progress for immediate and long-term effect. To ‘lead from the top’ by setting a DEI strategy, ‘get the data’ by collecting diversity data, and by setting in place ‘systems and pathways’ to implement a DEI strategy and to assess potential discrepancies, such as during recruitment by removing potential bias by utilising gender-neutral language in job adverts and having diverse interview panels.

Jamie Gill, founder of The Outsiders Perspective and BFC non-executive director, added: “Our catwalks are diverse, our campaigns are diverse, our consumers are diverse, but our workforce and our decision-makers are not.

“There is a solid business case for a diverse team, which is arguably most relevant for fashion. We, as an industry, should be leading the charge - because we have the most to gain.”

British Fashion Council
Fashion Minority Report
McKinsey & Company
The Outsiders Perspective