Kering, the French luxury conglomerate that owns Gucci, Saint Laurent, Balenciaga and Alexander McQueen, wants to usher in a new generation of talent in its legendary fashion houses.
For a month, professionals who aspire to work for the luxury conglomerate will be supervised by employees of Kering (PPRUY) and its emblematic houses. The opportunity is offered through Kering’s partnership with Black In Corporate, a non-profit organization focused on providing resources and career opportunities to workers.
“The prerequisite for creativity is actually diversity,” Kering Americas president Laurent Claquin told Yahoo Finance. “We have to celebrate the differences and different points of view. This is how we stimulate creativity.
Kering Chairman and CEO François-Henri Pinault hinted at creativity as the driving force behind the company when publishing its first quarter results. “While 2021 should still suffer some impact from the health crisis, the strategy, positioning and creativity of our Houses will allow each of them to flourish in today’s environment”, declared Pinault in April.
Store closures have not hampered Kering’s flourishing business. First quarter revenue surpassed pre-pandemic levels to reach 3.89 billion euros (around 4.6 billion dollars), up 26% against 3.2 billion euros (about 3.79 billion dollars) the previous year. (As detailed in a recent report from Credit Suisse, the ranks of the rich have swelled despite the vast economic downturn of 2020.)
While the Gucci owner actively seeks to add diverse perspectives to his payroll, the company is no stranger to the public’s backlash for not doing so in the past.
In 2019, the company apologized for showcasing a sweater in her Fall / Winter 2018 collection, which critics have said black face evoked. “If we have the right person around the table then we may not be able to repeat this mistake,” Claquin said.
Sixty-one percent of Kering’s workforce in the United States is ethnically diverse, and 21% of leadership positions are held by minorities, according to a report by Vogue Business. Kering is casting a wide net with its new mentorship program, opening it up to workers with no luxury industry experience.
“It’s not just ticking the box, but you have to create an environment for people to feel valued and respected, and [included]. You don’t just want to invite people to the party. You want to invite people to dance.
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