Recently, BYP Network sat down with Kate Rand, the Chief People Officer of Threads Styling, the luxury personal shopping service, to discuss diversity and inclusion within fashion.
Though a great source of creativity and inspiration, the fashion industry is not always known to be inclusive of all groups in campaigns and catwalks alike. Through the virtual sitdown with Kate, BYP were able to learn the various measures Threads has implemented regarding diversity, atop the bold steps they have taken to make sure equality and inclusion is not just another buzzword OKR, but a true makeup of their model.
When asked what diversity looks like at Threads, Kate acknowledged that the industry still has a long way to go. “The retail industry is not incredibly inclusive,” she starts “There has been prejudice across retail and fashion over the years, there still is.”
To combat this, she explained the importance of brands representing consumers, by effectively incorporating an inclusive range of models that all customers can relate to. Threads intentionally work with models of all backgrounds and groups across their social and client content, debunking the idea that only one type of skin tone is acceptable within society. “For example, we have a very global client group, including the Middle East and Asia. So we must represent their communities in our branding.”
Branding plays a pivotal role in consumerism. Various industries have seen a plethora of changes regarding their inbuilt systems and staff dynamics after last year's Black Lives Matter protests, and Threads is no different. The social and political awakening that took place last year, right up until now, has not only meant ardent adjustments concerning diversity within corporate establishments but to internal pledges within the retail industry. Kate proudly mentioned that Threads is a part of the 15% Pledge a platform created last year by fashion designer Aurora James. “In the last year, we have signed up for the 15% Pledge, our percentage has risen to 6% since we signed up late last year but we are ramping up to get to 15%.” The 15% Pledge is to encourage retailers to commit a minimum of 15% shelf space towards Black businesses. The figure itself was derived from Black people making a total of 15% of the US population.
The increase to 6% translates to Threads increasing the number of Black-owned brand partners to sixteen, as well as highlighting more Black-own brands and influencers on social content. “We are still low, in a slow to change industry. But we are working hard to increase this. With our unique model, social media is effectively our “shelf-space”, so we not only want to increase our brand partners but also representation within our social style content.”
The work does not stop at the pledge, nor does it stop at the diversity of models being featured in content. BYP enquired about whether diversity and inclusion forums were a part of Threads. In response, Kate earnestly admitted that one does not currently exist, the reason being that forums such as these can often shift the load onto one person when it is an issue that should be everyone’s concern. “As soon as you have one person heading a D&I forum it becomes one person’s issue & we believe truly that this should be everyone’s job. I also don’t want one individual to feel pressured into representing an entire group of people.” Kate’s vision and ultimately the company’s is to have a committee where everyone participates in equal measure, ensuring all voices are heard and a part of the standard makeup of the company. “I don’t believe in quotas concerning such because it can give people an opt-out, whilst having it as an OKR implies it is not a part of the actual company makeup.” Despite not having forums such as these, Threads is one of the many companies to include reverse mentoring, where employees mentor directors and executives on matters that they are passionate about, steadily evoking a change.
Changing the Black narrative is what we stand for here at BYP and Kate was sure to acknowledge this when asked what she thought of our network “By connecting like-minded people and providing jobs, I feel like BYP makes a difference. We have pledged and also partnered with Black In Fashion, but it’s great to have something UK based. You talk to the community, you see what is going on and try to make a difference. That is what I look for, in all our partners.”
Her final message to BYP network members is to join Threads in changing the narrative of Black talent within leadership “The key thing we need to work on is getting representation into management. So please bear with us if you can’t see the person you want to be at the top of our business. Join us and be a part of our progressive journey”
To know more about Threads and to be a part of their exciting journey, click here.