WASHINGTON — Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, and The Black in Fashion Council, an organization that promotes and advances Black representation in the fashion and beauty industry, released their inaugural Black in Fashion Index report, which measures company policies and practices related to the inclusivity of Black employees.
Building on the success of the HRC Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index, a benchmarking tool on LGBTQ+ inclusion, the Black in Fashion Council and HRC have partnered to produce this yearly public report. The tool tracks the work companies are doing to foster inclusion of Black employees at all levels, which is part of each company's three-year commitment. In its first year, 30 businesses submitted surveys for analysis and included organizations that ranged in size from small, privately owned enterprises, to Fortune 500 corporations.
The report is an assessment of the fashion and beauty industry with four major categories: workplace nondiscrimination policies, building an inclusive culture, engaging the Black community and corporate social responsibility. Based on the scoring, companies can earn one of three tiers of recognition—“Building Foundation for Inclusion,” “Foundation for Inclusion” and “Innovative Inclusion.”
In Workplace Nondiscrimination, 13 participants were awarded the Building tier, 11 were awarded the Foundational tier, and 6 were awarded the Innovative tier.
In Building an Inclusive Culture, 13 participants were awarded the Building tier, 1 was awarded the Foundational tier, and 16 were awarded the Innovative tier.
In Engaging the Black Community, 2 participants were awarded the Building tier, 5 were awarded the Foundational tier, and 23 were awarded the Innovative tier.
In Corporate Social Responsibility, 8 participants were awarded the Building tier, 17 were awarded the Foundational tier, and 5 were awarded the Innovative tier.
The criteria of the survey was created by the Black in Fashion Council and the HRC Foundation Workplace Equality Program to be attainable for all participants independent of company size, budget or current financial performance. Certain criterion include progressive internal policies such as: having a clear written policy prohibiting race-based hair discrimination, which is the denial of employment opportunities because of hair texture or protective hairstyles including braids, locs, twists or bantu knots.
The most considerable progress that was measured toward workplace inclusion has been the wide-scale adoption of internal nondiscrimination policies as well as making a specific effort to highlight Black talent.
80% of participants report offering an unconscious bias training with clear examples of race, ethnicity-based unconscious bias and microaggressions.
97% of participants report featuring Black talent in social media advertising, print and digital covers, print and digital advertising campaigns, branded content, influencer initiatives, commercials and endorsements.
83% of participants track representation of under-represented minorities across staff tiers and roles.
However, there is still considerable work to be done across all companies surveyed to achieve top marks in the other inclusive workplace policies and practices listed below:
20% of participants report having a formal professional development program for under-represented minorities including Black employees.
43% of participants report having an initiative to address pay inequity with an intersectional approach that includes both gender and race.
17% report having a program that includes outreach to LGBTQ-owned businesses.
The full report is available online here.
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