As fashion brands have been quick to put out statements supporting Black Lives Matter amid ongoing protests, a new collective has emerged to hold them accountable.
The Black in Fashion Council will launch in July and use an equality index to assess corporate policies and practices "pertinent to the inclusivity of Black employees." Scores will be tallied with the help of the Human Rights Campaign, which already has a Corporate Equality Index for the LGBTQ+ community and people with disabilities, and will be released in a yearly report. The companies that have signed up to be assessed have signed a three-year pledge to "foster representation of Black employees at all levels."
Lindsay Peoples Wagner, co-founder of the council and editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue, told Vogue, "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."
Who's behind the council? — Along with Peoples Wagner, the Black in Fashion Council was founded by Sandrine Charles, owner of the namesake consulting agency. Its executive board is represented by "all aspects" of the fashion and beauty industries, with members including GQ deputy fashion director Nikki Ogunnaike, costume designer Shiona Turini, and Harlem Fashion Row founder Brandice Daniel.
"The thinking behind this is we would be using our own networks to be able to have these conversations with people and encourage them to be part of the Council and be part of the corporate equality index," Peoples Wagner said of the board. "Whoever had a great relationship with a certain brand would spearhead that conversation."
The Black in Fashion Council will also be supported by the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
What's next? — 400 individual members of the Black in Fashion Council will begin reaching to find brands to partner with, according to Charles. The plan is to release the first equality index score in June 2021, which will be accompanied by a digital directory of Black fashion and beauty professionals that brands can hire or with to help increase diversity. Incredibly, the council was organized over the past few weeks. Which is a reminder of what's possible when people put their minds to something and choose to work together to make it happen.