Mirror, Mirror: Industry Players Look at Their Diversity Quotient

Bridget Foley

Click here to read the full article.

Day three of WWD’s look at fashion’s diversity quotient. How diverse are the staffs of individual companies, and, taken together, the pan-industry workforce? What impact does that diversity have on larger-scale operations and corporate culture? What impact does it have on the spirits and psyches of employees from underrepresented groups? And what about creativity — isn’t it fueled by diverse perspectives?

WWD asked numerous players, all with considerable hiring power, to self-assess, by taking a good hard look at their employee populations. Companies were sent a series of questions, some purely quantitative, some more nuanced, focused on workplace demographics and mind-sets. Respondents were free to provide free-form thoughts along with or instead of answering each question. Many did. Here, in the third installment of what is now a four-part series, several companies share what the look in the mirror revealed.

Note: The listings are, as in days one and two, alphabetical except for two: Adidas, which is below due to the need to confirm some of the data, and WWD’s parent company PMC, the only media company listed but included for the sake of full transparency.

PRADA GROUP

THE NUMBERS:

Employees: 13,800 worldwide

IN THE MIRROR

“At the Prada Group, we are committed to creating products that celebrate the diverse fashion and beauty of cultures around the world,” the company said in a statement. “Diversity and inclusion represents one of the fundamental facets of social sustainability, and we, as a group, feel a strong responsibility to improve it in every aspect of our daily work.” Without addressing specific employment demographics, the statement said Prada’s workforce is comprised “of people of various nationalities and different cultures and lifestyles” representing 105 nationalities in 40 countries.

“The Prada Group is committed to diversity and inclusion and working with the best and brightest minds,” the statement said. It noted its formation of a Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council to “help us bring more voices into our processes, projects and products.” Longtime Prada collaborators Ava DuVernay and Theaster Gates are on the council, as are Mariarosa Cutillo, chief of strategic partnerships at the United Nations Population Fund; Sarah Lewis, an author and Harvard associate professor of African and African American Studies, and Dr. Joyce F. Brown, president of the Fashion Institute of Technology. “We are committed to cultivating an inclusive culture that promotes, encourages, supports and celebrates the diverse voices of our employees at every level,” the company said.

–––––––––––––––

PVH CORP.

THE NUMBERS: 

Employees: 40,000 worldwide; 17,000 U.S.

U.S. employment: 58.8% nonwhite (Source: 2018 Corporate Responsibility Report)

Senior vice president and above: 88% white; 12% nonwhite

Vice president and director: 74% white; 26% nonwhite (Source: 2018 Corporate Responsibility Report [U.S. data only]). The 2019 report will be published July 8.

Corporate officers and executives: 12 members; 0 people of color

Board: 11 members; 0 people of color

IN THE MIRROR

Manny Chirico cut to the chase. “The most important thing for me, as a ceo, is to acknowledge up front that there is work in front of us for PVH to promote racial equality — and it will take time,” he told WWD. “I am committed to aggressive action and measurable goals.”

PVH breaks down its U.S. employee base only as white and nonwhite, a system its leadership knows is inadequate for shaping a forward-thinking recruiting and development strategy. In 2018, 58.8 percent of the company’s employee population was nonwhite. The 2019 Corporate Responsibility Report will update that figure upon its release on July 8. There are no people of color on the PVH leadership team, nor on its board, which has had three Black members in 20 years.

Stefan Larsson, PVH president and Chirico’s stated heir, echoed the ceo’s position. “We don’t have all the answers right now. No one does,” he said. “What we do have is the commitment to drive a long-term journey of making a real difference in advancing racial equality.”

He said the company is evolving its talent practices, focusing on increasing Black representation and supporting Black employees to ensure they have equal opportunities for success. “There are many of us who haven’t walked in the shoes of our Black community members, and we will never fully understand the pain they are experiencing right now. We all have a responsibility to lean in as active allies on this journey.”

PVH launched its Inclusivity and Diversity strategy six years ago, and established “a combination of concrete and philosophical targets…to drive fashion forward — for good,” according to its survey response. As at other companies, gender has been a stronger focus than race; one target is to achieve gender parity in leadership positions by 2030.

PVH does have unconscious bias training in place, which will ultimately become mandatory. The company also has four Business Resource Groups, one of which is BRAAVE [Building Resources for African American Voices and Empowerment], which “seeks to provide insights and thought leadership to make PVH the employer of choice for African Americans.” In the wake of the protests that have followed George Floyd’s killing by police, PVH and BRAAVE launched the Be BRAAVE campaign, which shares ways PVH associates can stand up for racial equality and social justice.

Still, the company recognizes “the immediate responsibility to do more,” and this starts with defining and implementing procedures to accelerate “needed improvement across the associate life cycle.” PVH will enhance its recruiting practices, invest in programs to support professional development of underrepresented groups and strengthen “processes for listening and gathering associate sentiment to better understand and address the needs of underrepresented groups.”

In September 2019, PVH unveiled a partnership with Howard University. It will work with the School of Business Executive Leadership Honors Program to diversify the company’s new talent pipeline. It also recently created the Global Talent Acquisition team devoted to “diversity and university recruitment to focus on improving diversity representation in early career hires.”

In terms of outreach, with BRAAVE, PVH has created a task force of leadership from its human resources, inclusion and diversity, PVH Foundation, Legal and Corporate Responsibility teams to “ensure we’re taking the right steps to make the most impact.”

The company also supports BRAG, a nonprofit that prepares students and professionals for careers in the fashion industry and at which Tommy Shawuan Johnson, an executive vice president at PVH brand Tommy Hilfiger, is a board member, and the Cristo Rei schools in New York and New Jersey. Cristo Rei is a high school network that integrates college-prep academics with work experience.

“We know that our unequivocal statements opposing racism and our global giving campaign among our associates benefiting organizations dedicated to racial justice mean nothing without action,” Chirico said. “I am holding myself and PVH accountable to make the positive change required in our organization and the world at large because Black Lives Matter.”

–––––––––––––––

RALPH LAUREN CORP.

THE NUMBERS:

Employees: 24,000 worldwide; 12,500-plus U.S.

U.S. employees: 39% white; 23% Black/African American; 23% Hispanic/Latino; 8% Asian; 3% two or more races; 0.05% Native American/Alaskan Native; 0.05% Native American/Pacific Islander

Board: 13 members 1 person of color, Dr. Joyce Brown (Black)

IN THE MIRROR

“What we heard was both poignant and painful…some of what we heard made us uncomfortable.” So said Ralph Lauren in a statement to WWD about a series of roundtable conversations his company held, open to employees around the world.

“These events were created as a safe place and platform to share feelings, emotions and stories — and truthful experiences were shared bravely by a diverse group of our employees, many from our Black community,” Lauren said. Despite the discomfort — or even perhaps because of it, “in the end we were energized by and deeply grateful for the articulation of how we can make our company a true community of equality for everyone. As we continue to listen and understand, our mission now is to act — and our actions will be guided by these voices.”

The Ralph Lauren company is taking action. Lauren and chief executive officer Patrice Louvet penned a letter to the company, addressed, “Dear Team,” which they posted to their web site. They opened by saying that innate to the Ralph Lauren oeuvre is inspiring dreams, but “you cannot dream without hope.” They expressed anguish over the killings of Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery — “and the many who have come before them” — their deaths casting mournful light on “the systemic racism and racial injustice that is woven into American society.”

The overall cultural reckoning, Lauren and Louvet wrote, has made it clear that “the current reality for our Black and African American colleagues does not fully align with our values and what we stand for.” The two men vowed that the company would take a critical look at its structures and practices, study them and then do its part.

For starters, the company is expanding its multicultural Diversity and Inclusion group, Mosiac, launched last year as a platform for Black employees to be heard. The group will now directly advise the executive leadership. The company will provide unconscious bias and microaggression training, which all managers must complete by the end of July and all other employees by October.

It will continue to report the racial makeup of its staff, and commits to ensuring Black employees have access to career development programs, while promoting more into leadership roles. Starting now, for every job opening at or above the vice president level, at least one Black candidate must be interviewed, and one from another underrepresented group. Going forward, the company will support the United Negro College Fund and historically Black colleges and universities. And it will be ever more careful with the brand messaging that has been consistent for 50 years. “We will examine how we portray the American Dream,” Lauren and Louvet wrote, “in the stories we tell, the creators we champion, the faces we elevate, the families we hero, and the media partners we support.”

Those are first steps. In his statement to WWD on how his company can partake in the battle against racism, Lauren said, “We are listening, learning and examining how we as a company and global brand must meaningfully act to dismantle systemic racial inequality.”

––––––––––––––

TAPESTRY INC.

THE NUMBERS:

Employees: 18,200 worldwide; 9,300 U.S.

U.S. workforce: 56% people of color; 25% Latinx; 13% Asian; 12% Black

Middle management, director level and above: 27% people of color; 4% Black

Senior management, vice president and above: 22% people of color; 5% Black

Executive leadership: Ceo Jide Zeitlin

IN THE MIRROR

On June 1, Tapestry’s Jide Zeitlin, one of four Black Fortune 500 ceo’s in the U.S., reacted to the first weekend of protests over the killing of Floyd with a personal and emotional letter posted to LinkedIn. In it, he recalled his time in apartheid South Africa after business school, where he went with a labor research group, “hoping to bring my business training to the work of labor unions.” At a political gathering at a small town church, his group came under assault by teenagers in armored cars, devastating the gathering with tear gas and rubber bullets.

Zeitlin told the story in the context of learning of damage to Tapestry stores during the weekend’s protests. As the damage accounts came in, he recalled thinking, “We can replace our windows and handbags, but we cannot bring back George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Emmett Till, and too many others. Each of these Black Lives Matter.”

Zeitlin went on to detail the “visceral importance of inclusion,” writing that Tapestry’s leaders had met throughout the week to think about how the company can best contribute to change, and invoking Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter From a Birmingham Jail.” “Almost 60 years have passed, yet America is still struggling to solve a 400-year-old problem. We cannot leave this task to others,” Zeitlin wrote.

When he noted that, “we’re working on a plan,” he wasn’t talking only about internal Tapestry activity. “We want to convene a number of social justice, legal and corporate entities to formulate a longer-term plan for addressing systemic inequality,” he said. “Inequality in health, economic opportunity, public safety and other sectors. We hope to join with government, but events of this past week make it clear that we cannot wait.”

Zeitlin’s passion permeates Tapestry, a company that took corporate citizenship very seriously before his ascent as ceo. Its commitment to diversity and inclusion reaches back beyond the urgency of the current moment, but is intensified by it.

The company is a member of the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion pledge. As a part of that endeavor, in 2019, Tapestry participated in “Beyond the Bottom Line,” a series of dialogues between ceo’s and employees about “the challenges of the modern workplace and ways to overcome them.” Tapestry’s Inclusion Council, established in 2019, seeks to include people with diverse perspectives in business decisions. Also last year, Tapestry set concrete diversity goals for 2025, including increasing its number of North America-based minority leaders. Inclusion training is mandatory for all staff in North America, and will be extended globally next year. For three years in a row, the company has been included on Forbes’ “Best Employers for Diversity” list.

A key tenet of Tapestry’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is “engaging in public discourse,” as when it hosted a signing of the “Open to All Diversity” pledge to kick off the September 2019 New York Fashion Week. The company also hosts Unscripted, a conversation series featuring diverse leaders from inside and outside the company. To commemorate Black History Month in 2020, social activist and human rights attorney Bryan Stevenson discussed his work with the poor and incarcerated.

Not surprisingly, Tapestry sees talent acquisition and development as essential to its inclusion efforts. Many of the company’s recruits come through LinkedIn, which has proven an excellent place to “source diverse talent.” In addition, the company points to its relationships with historically Black colleges and universities and alumni organizations. This summer, Tapestry will host a “virtual” internship program with 54 percent of its participants coming from diverse backgrounds.

That intense attention to diversity extends to corporate governance. In its survey response, the company points to the makeup of its board as a source of pride, saying, “diversity at the top matters.” Tapestry is devoted to increasing ethnic representation on the group’s and brand’s leadership teams.

Looking to the future, and to what it can do better, Tapestry promises to “be bolder in standing up for the causes that matter to our employees, their families and the communities in which we live and operate,” and to “ensure that people of color and particularly Black employees have development and career opportunities.”

While lofty and large, Tapestry’s goals are the antithesis of ephemeral. The company wants to lead by example, to forge broad, systemic, pragmatic change. “Corporate America needs to get to a place where this conversation is easier and more sustained,” its survey response said. “Diversity and inclusion is a business priority as much as it is a social priority.”

–––––––––––––––

TARGET CORP.

THE NUMBERS:

Employees: 350,000 worldwide

U.S. employees: 48% racial/ethnic minority

Executive/senior officials and managers: 20% racial/ethnic minority

First/midlevel officials and managers: 31% racial/ethnic minority

Professionals: 25% racial/ethnic minority

Technicians: 41% racial/ethnic minority

Sales workers: 50% racial/ethnic minority

Administrative support: 38% racial/ethnic minority

Craft workers: 27% racial/ethnic minority

Operatives: 50% racial/ethnic minority

Laborers and helpers: 53% racial/ethnic minority

Service workers: 50% racial/ethnic minority

Board: 46% racially/ethnically diverse

IN THE MIRROR

A Target spokesperson responded with the company’s most recent employment statistics and a link to its Diversity and Inclusion page. There, the text heralds that at Target, diversity and inclusion “starts with staying open.”

If the mind races to the height of the coronavirus shutdown when thousands of heroic workers turned up every day — and continue to do so — making Target stores beacons of necessary items, you’re wrong, although the connection can’t have been lost on the Target web site cognoscenti. The next line explains that “[staying open] means getting comfortable being uncomfortable, and giving everyone access to the same opportunities. It means being bold, accountable and curious. Together.”

When the company released its inclusivity goals for 2019 to 2021, it conceded that there was still work to be done and vowed to track progress in three critical areas: Representation, to ensure staffing reflective of local qualified applicant pools; Inclusive Experience, in which all employees are treated equitably, and Business, including investing in diverse suppliers and reaching diverse audiences with product and messaging that speaks to them.

This drive for diversity reverberates throughout the in-store level. In addition to a workforce that’s almost 50 percent racially/ethnically diverse, more than one-third of Target stores are run by “a racial/ethnically diverse leader.” In 2019, Working Mother Media included Target on its Top 50 Best Companies for Multicultural Women list, and in 2020, DiversityInc Magazine ranked it 13th on its top 50 Companies for Diversity. (It came in number-one among retailers, and ninth for board diversity on the same list).

As Minneapolis erupted into protests in the wake of the killing of Floyd, Target found itself at the heart of demonstrations when its Lake Street store was burned down. On May 29, ceo Brian Cornell posted a heartfelt response on the company’s web site. In it, he acknowledged the communal pain brought to the fore by the killings of Floyd, Arbery, Taylor and others. He committed to maintaining full pay and benefits for the Lake Street store’s 200 employees and promised to “continue to invest in the local communities, jobs and economic opportunity by rebuilding and bringing back the store that has served as a community of resources since 1976.”

A key step on the road to those “better days”: a major financial commitment to social justice organizations. On June 5, Target revealed a $10 million contribution to long-standing partners, including the National Urban League and the African American Leadership Forum, as well as others. Through the Target Foundation, the company focused on “investments in Black- and people-of-color-owned businesses and entrepreneurs, along with efforts to promote equity in the areas of housing, asset-building and workforce development.” It also pledged “10,000 hours of pro-bono consulting services for Black- and people-of-color-owned small businesses in the Twin Cities, helping with rebuilding efforts.”

–––––––––––––––––

ADIDAS AG

THE NUMBERS: 

Employees: 60,000 worldwide

Executive board: Six members; 0 people of color  

Supervisory board: 16 members; 2 people of color: Nassef Sawiris (Egyptian); Jing Ulrich (Chinese)

IN THE MIRROR

Adidas released a statement from its board on June 9. “We have had to look inward to ourselves as individuals and our organization and reflect on systems that disadvantage and silence Black individuals and communities,” ceo Kasper Rørsted said. “While we have talked about the importance of inclusion, we must do more to create an environment in which all of our employees feel safe, heard and have equal opportunity to advance their careers.”

The next day the company unveiled a series of commitments, with a major goal to “focus on the advancement of underrepresented groups and drive company-wide changes,” Adidas said in a statement. To that end, it has established ambitious employment targets: a minimum of 30 percent of all open U.S. positions filled with Black and Latinx candidates, and 50 percent, with diverse talent across various groups (gender, sexual orientation, disability, veteran), by the end of 2021. For 2025, the company set an additional target of 20 to 23 percent of U.S. corporate roles filled by Black and Latinx employees, and 12 percent of leadership positions. The company is also establishing anti-harassment and discrimination standards.

While specific targets focus on the U.S., an Adidas spokesperson said racism “is a global issue and we are addressing it globally.” The company has established a Global Committee to Accelerate Inclusion and Equality comprised of diverse people from across the company at various areas and levels. The committee will work on grand-scale issues of structure and policy and more granular matters, such as finding solutions to  overcoming day-to-day barriers that diverse groups face in the workplace.

Adidas is also upping its already active community outreach. Over the next five years it will finance 50 scholarships per year at partner schools for Black students. Larger-scale, it has committed $120 million through 2025 to support Black communities in the U.S. through its own programs. These include Adidas Legacy, a basketball platform for underserved communities; the Adidas School for Experiential Education in Design, focused on career paths in footwear design, and Honoring Black Excellence, “an initiative honoring and supporting the Black community through sport.”

But showing that many of the group’s employees believe more needs to be done, Adidas on Tuesday said Karen Parkin, executive board member of Adidas AG for human resources, was stepping down after controversial comments she made at a companywide meeting last year in Boston. Rørsted will assume her duties until a successor is found.

–––––––––––––––––

PMC

THE NUMBERS: 

Employees: More than 1,000 worldwide

Board: 9 members, 3 people of color; 1 Black member

IN THE MIRROR

WWD’s parent PMC is the only media company included in this survey. PMC defines diversity as “difference in racial, ethnic, gender, religious beliefs and sexual orientations,” according to a spokesperson in the company’s survey response. PMC’s Diversity and Inclusion mission states that the company is “committed to creating and sustaining a workplace where individuals and the experiences they bring with them are valued.” To date, PMC’s targets and goals for diversity and inclusion have been “philosophical.” Recently, though, after a hard look inward, the company has determined to shift the employee population so that it reflects “percentage-wise the diversity in the U.S. and other markets as a whole,” a goal which it has given itself 12 months to attain. Leaders across the business will be held accountable for measurable goals in this area.

PMC is proud of its success in the realm of gender diversity through all levels of the business, but concedes that there is work to do in terms of racial diversity. The company has more than 1,000 employees, but hard data about diversity statistics could not be provided as only one-third of employees have opted to self-report racial-identity information. The spokeswoman noted that “as a rapid-growth company that has expanded exponentially in recent years, metrics — in hiring and elsewhere in h.r. — is still an area we continue to build over time. We must more consistently prioritize diversity in all its forms across our businesses and hold ourselves to hard metrics to measure our success.”

In terms of talent recruitment and development, PMC prioritizes people of color in its mentorship-focused internship program “as much as possible,” so that “students or recent graduates of varied backgrounds can learn journalism as well as the various industries our brands cover.” Additionally, PMC has a Diversity and Inclusion Committee comprised of members from across the business. The Diversity and Inclusion Committee includes “initiatives in hiring and relationship-building with racially diverse universities and professional associations as well as inclusivity and education programs inside PMC.”

Sign up for WWD's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.