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New Research Examines State of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in Fashion Industry

Research aims to move fashion industry toward a more representative and equitable workforce in the American fashion industry

Last month, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and PVH Corp. (NYSE: PVH) unveiled the “State of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in Fashion” report, a definitive work of research and suggested next steps for the American fashion industry to be more representative and equitable in its workforce, talent pipeline and consumer base.

The CFDA and PVH began this collaboration in 2018, advocating for measurable change to increase workplace opportunity for all through representation, retention and advancement of talent.

This work, which draws on research and analysis by McKinsey & Company, can be used as a framework to help advance the journey toward equality in organizations throughout the industry.

“We are grateful for PVH’s continued partnership with the CFDA, which allows us to address important needs within American fashion. With the study’s findings and toolkit, we look to industry stakeholders to support us in creating an industry that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive,” said Steven Kolb, CEO of the CFDA.

To drive this forward, the CFDA and PVH managed research over the past year to better understand how the fashion industry can be more diverse, equitable, and inclusive, particularly through the lens of racial equity as it relates to talent acquisition and retention. This research included a survey of over 1,000 working industry professionals across 41 companies, 20 stakeholder interviews, and three focus groups with students and emerging designers during fall 2020. A shared objective was to understand the experiences of employees and prospective talent from underrepresented communities across all industry disciplines and levels and to explore related themes such as allyship and intersectionality.

The tragic and senseless acts of racial injustice in 2020, including the loss of all victims of racism in the U.S., as well as the wide-reaching economic impacts of COVID-19, have made this work even more critical.

“The inclusion and diversity challenges in the fashion industry are real. This important research not only confirms that; the learnings from it will also help guide the work towards positive and lasting change,” said Stefan Larsson, CEO of PVH Corp. “We have work to do at PVH, together with our larger industry, we have a collective responsibility to lean in and drive real impact. This is as important as any business strategy and speaks more broadly to who we are as human beings and the impact we can have on society.”

The report highlights the experiences and structural challenges of inequity in the industry. Through this research, the CFDA and PVH identified six key areas of opportunity: awareness, access, promotion, advocacy, compensation and belonging. Addressing these areas provides a framework for companies to quantify their culture’s strengths and opportunities for improvement; provide insight into actionable steps towards a future more reflective of our citizenry; and foster a talent pipeline from underrepresented communities.

“The fashion industry, both in the U.S. and worldwide, has historically struggled with opportunities and pipelines for Black and Brown talent. We need to collectively address and change this. Our work with PVH will hasten the process and is key to CFDA’s overall DEI work around our IMPACT initiative, launching later this month to identify, connect, support, and nurture Black and Brown creatives and professionals in fashion,” said CaSandra Diggs, President of the CFDA.

The “State of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in Fashion” report builds upon the CFDA and PVH’s co-authored 2019 industry briefing “Insider/Outsider: Inclusion & Diversity in the American Fashion Industry.” Together, the CFDA and PVH continue to partner with the industry to inspire and build a future that is better for business, better for creativity, and better for people.

The Council of Fashion Designers of America, Inc. (CFDA) is a not-for-profit trade association founded in 1962 with a membership of 477 of America’s foremost womenswear, menswear, jewelry, and accessory designers.

PVH is one of the most admired fashion and lifestyle companies in the world, powering brands that drive fashion forward – for good.

For more details and to download the report, visit CFDA.com or PVH.com.

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