Black Lives Matter is a movement that started as a response to police brutality years ago. However, this movement has transcribed into also improving the conditions Black people live in. This lead to the companies and brands being held to higher standards with their policies on diversity and inclusion.
Recently, the death of George Floyd started a spark of brands standing in solidarity with their Black consumers. However, these same brands were internally perpetuating the racism and oppression of their blacks employees. For instance, this may mean paying Black people less, moving their peers up while keeping well-qualified Black employees in the same position, or not offering them the same opportunities.
After 153 years of establishment, Vanity Fair magazine had its first Black photographer shoot their cover this year. Meanwhile, Harpers Bazaar championed their first Black editor-in-chief. Black creatives need a plan that holds these companies accountable for actionable change. Lindsay Peoples Wagner, Editor-In-Chief at Teen Vogue, and Sandrine Charles, publicist, saw this problem and now have a solution.
“Starting in July 2021, this Equality Index will be available to the public.”
The Black in Fashion Council is a collection of over 300 creatives, with a 40 member board. These members range from careers in fashion to the beauty industry. Their goal is to create “A world in which black people in fashion and beauty spaces can be open and honest, guaranteed equal rights, and be celebrated for our voices.” (Fashionista.com)
Wagner and Charles partnered with the Human Rights Campaign to create an Equality Index. This Equality Index will highlight procedures that are relevant to the equality of Black employees. In addition, this Index will give these companies a score, along with resources on how to improve.
Wagner stated during a Vogue interview that “This would be a way to continue to give companies a report card of accountability without them feeling like they’re being shamed into it, and giving them the actual resources of what people are saying they want to see changed.”
Starting in July 2021, this Equality Index will be available to the public. This is meant to champion companies that are committed to equality internally.
Getting companies to sign up for this deep dive into their ethics may be the difficult part. However, the Black Fashion Council has that covered with their influential board members. According to Wagners Vogue Interview, three major members of the board will be in charge of company relationships:
- Nikki Ogunnaike, GQ Deputy fashion director.
- Shiona Turini, Costume Designer of “Insecure” and “Queen and Slim”
- Brandice Daniel, founder of Harlem’s Fashion Row
“Look at the front row during Fashion Week. There are no Black bloggers there. Like none. Why not? We need to start having some real talks about it.”
—Claire Sulmers, influencer
The Black Fashion Council came to Wagner after she wrote an article for The Cut “What Its Like To Be Black and Work In Fashion”. The article made it obvious that internally the fashion industry is still behind. It’s now time to start holding these companies accountable for their role in the advancement of Black people. The Black in Fashion Council is the solution that many black creatives have been begging for. Over time this accountability will create a space for Black creative professionals to grow and become appreciated.
Corinea is an Atlanta based fashion business owner and voice. She is a graduate of SCAD with a background in fashion, costume design and business management. With insight spanning into the textile industry, she can be found on all social media under @cocorinea