Kering’s biggest brand, Gucci, which accounted for 56% of Kering’s € 13.1 billion in 2020 revenue, is the most publicized to highlight DEI’s efforts. Under its Equilibrium umbrella, the brand oversees initiatives such as the Gucci Changemakers program, which distributes $ 1.5 million in scholarships over four years to 20 young designers, and publishes the zine Chime for Change, amplifying the voices of women and men. black girls. Some of Kering’s other houses are quieter and have been criticized for not reflecting diversity on catwalks and in advertising campaigns.
“My responsibility is to influence the decision-maker,” says Bagamane. “Our goal for everyone when they sit down to make a decision, whether it’s creating a product, developing an ad campaign, or choosing models, is to stop and look around. the table and ask yourself: “who is not there?” If they don’t have the right voice in the room, they should go get that voice and not do it with people who all look like them.
Cultural appropriation has been a huge problem for part of the fashion industry. “Fashion is built on this idea of taking inspiration from a lot of different sources, but there is a difference between borrowing with permission and stealing where you take something and reuse it when the very people it comes from are excluded from it. history, ”says Shereen Daniels, Managing Director of HR Rewired, a consultancy fighting racial inequalities in business.
Kering strives to create a safe space where its employees can learn, underlines Bagamane. “This is a very sensitive and emotional subject for all companies. Many people will be hesitant to speak up, take action, or commit because they don’t want to say the wrong thing.
This fear can hinder progress. “My concern is that people try once, make a mistake and then see it as a failure. That shouldn’t stop them from trying again, ”she said. “We have to be kind to each other on this trip or everyone will be frozen and they won’t budge. We have to eliminate fear, and that’s what we’re trying to do through these conversations. “
The aim is to make diversity the norm rather than a specific initiative. “In fashion trends come and go quickly, but institutional change is slow, unfortunately,” Jenkins says.
Bagamane pleads for a patient and sustainable approach. “The pace is important. We can’t go too fast, or we’ll lose people. One of the most interesting conversations I’ve had with executives is that this is different from building a collection and takes more time because we’re trying to create systemic behaviors and structural changes. The right pace is important in creating long-term, lasting change. “