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The British Fashion Council’s Diversity Report Is Here and These Are The Key Takeaways

by Jess Clark

The British Fashion Council (BFI), in collaboration with Outsiders Perspective and the (Fashion) Minority Report and supported by McKinsey & Co., released the first ever UK Fashion Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEl) Report in 2024. 

The 104 page document sheds light into a variety of aspects around the UK’s Fashion Industry, and we’ve summarised the key learnings. 

Key takeaways from the report include:

- Approximately 9% of fashion executives and board members in the UK are individuals of colour, and around 39% are women. 

- Power roles, such as CEO, Chairs, and Creative Directors, see 11% held by people of colour and 24% by women.

- 86% of white men perceive the industry as diverse, contrasting with only 46% of people of colour who share that belief.

- Only 17% of companies have disclosed quantitative Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) targets, whereas 56% have outlined sustainability targets.

The British Fashion Council underscores the need for increased diversity in corporate representation, stating that, “Despite a demonstrable positive shift in fashion’s public facing persona, the sector can accomplish much more by diversifying its corporate representation.”

Notably, socio-economic status plays a crucial role in DEI, with only 56% of people working in the fashion industry, having attending non-fee paying schools and receiving free school meals, feeling they can be authentic in the workplace.

The report advocates for three strategic levers which the BFC have outlined and would like to see progress, with the practices being built into the wider business strategies.

1 - “Lead From The Top”

Assigning specific DEI objectives to each executive member, embedding a long-term commitment by allocating time for regular discussions, sufficient resources, and continuous training.

2 - “Get the data”

Fostering internal communication, executives need to be continuing to monitor the situation, which should lead to people in power being held accountable and progress on DEI.

3 - “Systems and Pathways” 

Recommended to ensure there are solid processes in place alongside the removal of biases.

The ultimate goal is to achieve greater diversity, where 25% people of colour, 50% women, and representation from LGBTQIA+ and disabled communities make up the boards. 

The report exemplifies the need for top-level commitment, calling on white men to recognize their privilege and implement BFC's recommendations. Education and mindset changes, facilitated by increased representation of women and people of colour in power roles, are also highlighted.

Additionally, the report urges the inclusion of LGBTQIA+ individuals, acknowledging their historical contributions to fashion. It emphasises the importance of recognizing and crediting the impact of women of colour on fashion trends, fostering diversity and public satisfaction.

In conclusion, the BFC report signals a pressing need for concerted efforts to enhance diversity in the fashion industry. Annual monitoring and accountability for those in influential positions are crucial for sustained progress.

Edited by Emily Duff

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