Burberry announces diversity drive after 'noose hoodie' storm
Burberry has become the latest luxury label to announce a new programme focused on boosting its diversity and cultural sensitivity after falling foul of criticism over a hoodie that appeared to trivialise suicide and lynchings.
The item, which had been shown on the runway at London Fashion Week, featured a neck detail that resembled a noose. The company quickly withdrew it after a social media storm erupted and admitted it had been insensitive.
Now CEO Marco Gobbetti has gone further and has issued an official statement and another apology on Instagram. He said: “At Burberry, we have always sought to build a culture that is diverse, open and inclusive and one where all perspectives are valued. The distress we caused with one of our products last week has shown us that we are not where we need or want to be.
“We are determined to learn from this and have spoken with our employees, experts and communities we impacted, we have developed a plan to increase our consciousness and understanding of social issues and fully embrace diversity and inclusion. We have a firm foundation from which to build. We have strong values, outstanding people and creativity at our core. Today, we are taking further steps to make real change happen.”
The outcome of all this is an action plan that will see it strengthening its understanding of insensitivity with “a range of perspectives to help us live the values we hold and be truly inclusive.”
It will introduce additional training for all employees, including senior management, establish employee councils focused on diversity and inclusion, and assemble an advisory board of external experts.
It will also diversify the pipeline of talent “to ensure we better reflect the world we live in and build a more diverse talent base for the future.” That will include strengthening goals “to ensure diverse representation in our employee base”, and more educational support for young people from diverse and challenged backgrounds internationally as well as in the UK.
And it wants to champion those who help others with more support for organisations promoting diversity and inclusion and providing assistance to people in crisis, including the Samaritans.
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