Following 'Noose' Hoodie Controversy, Burberry Announces New Diversity and Inclusivity Initiatives

"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," said Burberry CEO Marco Gobbetti in an official statement.
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Looks from the Burberry Fall 2019 collection. Photo: Courtesy of Burberry

Looks from the Burberry Fall 2019 collection. Photo: Courtesy of Burberry

Following the recent strides that both Gucci and Prada have made towards more diversity within their own internal teams, Burberry announced via Instagram on Tuesday that new initiatives will be put into action following the controversy behind a "noose" hoodie that was shown as part of Riccardo Tisci's Fall 2019 collection during London Fashion Week. (Both Tisci and CEO Marco Gobbetti have issued an apology.)

"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," said Gobbetti in an official statement with the recent announcement, which you can read in full below:

"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."

Burberry has released three overarching steps as part of its plan. First, the British heritage brand will increase and strengthen its overall understanding of sensitive topics and social issues by introducing additional training for all employees, including those in senior roles. Similarly to Prada, Burberry will also establish "employee councils focused on diversity and inclusion," as well as create an advisory board of external experts.

Like Gucci, the brand is working to achieve more diverse representation in terms of talent, too: Its international creative artist scholarship will be expanded to fully support students and provide full-time employment for 50 graduates over the next five years. In addition, Burberry Inspire, an in-school arts and culture program, will now extend internationally. Lastly, Burberry is making a point to champion and support other organizations with the mission to promote diversity and inclusion, including the U.K.-based Samaritans, which offers a safe and confidential space for individuals in crisis.

While the plans among these global luxury brands could have all happened much sooner — and without controversy as a catalyst for actual action — we hope that more companies and businesses within the industry will take it upon themselves to follow their leads and create their own initiatives in the seasons ahead.

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