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Pledge for Change

What the fashion and beauty industry can do to make a difference

We caught up with DIARY Directory to openly discuss how the fashion and beauty industry can work towards becoming more inclusive. See an extract from the article below

Over the last decade, the fashion and beauty industry has come a long way in terms of diversity, however, the recent death of George Floyd has sparked outrage amongst us all, and has made each and every one of us question what we can do, both individually and within the companies we work for and with. 

Now is the time to continue to educate ourselves, listen and learn, but we know that lots of businesses are unsure of what tangible things they can do and are worried about saying the wrong thing.

Shannon Walker, Founder of Social Disruption 

Shannon Walker launched Social Disruption earlier this year with the aim of adding value to in-house communication departments lacking in diversity, offering a fresh perspective and support on inclusive campaigns and messages.  

"I’ve always been drawn to the challenge of being in traditional in-house environments where I could carve out a niche; introducing forward-thinking digital ways of working as well as be an advocate of diversity through my work. As a result, I’ve had the pleasure of working with incredible luxury brands, amazing people and been on projects where I could contribute to a business’ output of diversely rich campaigns.

"I will forever treasure and be grateful for these experiences, however, it is no secret that the PR Industry overall has a big diversity problem. No one deserves to feel like they don’t belong, aren’t heard nor seen. This firm belief fuels the drive I have to not only advocate diversity, purpose and positivity, but align with the people and brands who share these values too.

DIARY: Brands and agencies have touched on diversity and inclusion schemes, talked inspirationally about equality, and have committed to change, but is that enough?

Shannon: On a surface level perhaps, however we’ve seen this is not enough for consumers who are fiercely untied in demanding more. Transparency is paramount on the topic of anti-racism, hence the increased pressure for brands and agencies to outline clearly what these schemes look like to disprove that they are part of PR or performative action ploys. Industry leaders, influencers and brand communities, have joined in chorus to hold businesses accountable to ensure real change takes place.

The focus now is on the absence of existing Black and POC professionals in these conversations for change. The personal experience, perspective and expertise of this groups voice should be consulted at the heart of all the discourse around change, otherwise this is counter intuitive.

Social Disruption has published a list of action points, which have been compiled from discussions had with Black creatives:

  • Consulting Black and POC professionals   It’s imperative that a wide range of people from different ethnicities and expertise are included in the conversations and direction for change. There’s a wealth of experience that several professionals and organisations from Black backgrounds have, who specialise in diversity and anti-racism work. Work with Black professions to form In-house Representation Panels, responsible marketing initiatives and anti-racism policies. These are just a few impactful ways in which In-house and Luxury brands can create permanent accountability measures that drive long-term positive changes, with the inclusion of the ethnic group mostly marginalised.

  • Diversity in core departments (diversity is often ticked off a box because it's focused in lower-level positions)  Unfortunately, there’s an unhealthy culture of hiring people who look like you. It’s critical to have racial diversity in executive and core positions such as Marketing, Communications, HR and the Boardroom, to contribute in key decision making and overall healthy culture. This premise is mirrored in external marketing: most prevalent in Influencer Marketing campaigns. In-house marketers are hiring the “brand-aligned” people who look like them and who they are most comfortable around. Tastemaker and Author, Tamu Mcpherson published a well versed open letter to the industry on this. Many White and Non-Black Influencers have also joined the Black community in highlighting that this only reinforces and mirrors the White Supremacy and Privilege widespread in our society, which many have said they will be challenging going forward.

  • Anti-racism awareness training, education and safe procedures   In workplaces, education, safe spaces and effective procedures are required to call out blatant and micro-aggressive racism in order to effect genuine personal and cultural changes. Horrific accounts of racial injustice in the industry are coming out which emphasises the importance of having tighter prevention measures to eradicate unconscious and conscious acts of this.

  • Lastly, businesses are being expected to look outside their walls at how they can purposefully contribute to shaping a better society   Some suggestions to do this concerning anti-racism work include: Investments and involvement in Black communities and grassroots organization, Converse has just announced great plans of this; industry internships and education targeted towards getting more Black and Ethnic groups into the industry; partnering with anti-racism organisations to support obliterating racism in society and stocking more Black Owned Businesses as well as including them in the supply and product chains, to name a few.

These points are not exhaustive as there's an immense amount of work to do, and even undo, to see complete equality in the industry and wider society. However, the global conversations taking place, sparked by the Black Lives Matter Movement, are inspiring outpours of unity and rapid moves towards overdue revolution. I'm sure that I'm joined by thousands when I say, I'm starting to feel hopeful and look forward to seeing the positive changes ahead.

Read the full article here

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