13 September 2023

The British Fashion Council in partnership with MBS are pleased to present the Diversity & Inclusion in Fashion report. This second consecutive year of data collection enables a thorough evaluation of any advancements made and explores the industry's commitment to promoting diversity and inclusiveness.

In a pioneering research effort, the MBS Group has analysed voluntary data provided by Europe's top 100 fashion companies, focusing on the representation of key demographics, including women, ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+ individuals, and disabled leaders, at crucial organisational tiers such as the board, executive committee, and direct reports.

The main findings indicate some progress from last year: 

  1. Nearly three-quarters of fashion companies have D&I strategies, but they are underdeveloped - today, more than 70% of fashion companies have in place a formal strategy to drive inclusion and encourage representation of minority groups, up from just half of companies last year. While more fashion businesses are collecting data, dedicating budget and hiring D&I Leads, most D&I strategies are still in their early stages.
  2. There are now just as many women as men reporting into the executive committee, and more people of colour in leadership positions - in fashion, 41% of Board seats and 43% of executive committee positions are held by women. Most positively, more than half of leaders reporting into the executive committee are women. On ethnic diversity, 10% of Board seats, 11% of executive committee positions, and 6% of direct report roles are held by leaders from an ethnic minority background.
  3. Fashion lacks consistent Board sponsorship on D&I - D&I still sits firmly within the HR function in most fashion businesses. While HR has a critical role to play in designing and rolling out people policies which promote inclusion, D&I strategies must be owned by the Board and executive committee to be most effective. 
  4. Steps are being taken towards a cultural reset - last year, we found that historic hiring models and patterns of behaviour had become barriers to progress on D&I. While the fashion industry still has a reputation for its exclusivity, attitudes are shifting and programmes to drive up social mobility – like internships, mentoring and new hiring strategies – are common.
  5. Competing priorities pose threats to progress - deliberate, focused action is needed to drive change, at a time when public scrutiny on D&I is waning. Fashion companies must balance D&I efforts with other priorities such as sustainability and ESG.

Undergoing research and collecting data is the first step in understanding the structural problems related to diversity and inclusion. Based on the findings of this report, it is clear that the fashion industry needs to continue to push boundaries and challenge the status quo, making it a priority to create inclusive and equitable environments throughout businesses. 

Caroline Rush, BFC Chief Executive, said: “We would like to thank all those who have contributed to this invaluable report. Data collection is essential for benchmarking in order to develop strategy and implement change. Nearly three-quarters of fashion businesses now have coordinated D&I strategies, however now is the time to truly embed these practices. Deep rooted challenges persist and we must collectively rally to create real change. ”

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