Gucci invests $10m for diversity after blackface scandal

Kering Gucci
// Gucci splashes out $10m to boost diversity and inclusion in the company
// Comes a month after it was embroiled in a blackface racism row
// Gucci Changemakers has a focus on reaching out to diverse designers & educating staff

Gucci has invested $10 million (£7.63 million) into a new programme that aims to encourage diversity and inclusion within the company.

Known as Gucci Changemakers, the scheme was set up in response to a racism row last month after it was spotted selling a turtleneck jumper featuring a mouth slit bordered with a thick red line, evoking blackface imagery.

Gucci quickly pulled the item from its stores and website and apologised after the image of the “balaclava jumper” went viral.

“We consider diversity to be a fundamental value to be fully upheld, respected, and at the forefront of every decision we make,” the Italian luxury house and retailer said at the time.

“We are fully committed to increasing diversity throughout our organisation and turning this incident into a powerful learning moment for the Gucci team and beyond.”

The Kering-owned retailer announced on its social media channels this week that the Gucci Changemakers scheme reinforces its commitment to corporate social responsibility and has an objective to create “lasting social impact in our communities and within the fashion industry”.

Gucci Changemakers was first launched internally last year but the company has decided to expand it in the wake of the blackface racism scandal.

The scheme includes initiatives to recruit a global director for diversity and inclusion, to create a training programme designed to heighten the cultural awareness among Gucci’s 18,000 global employees, and the launch of an internal exchange programme.

Gucci is also planning to create an international programme of multicultural scholarships that will lead to the hiring of five people from diverse backgrounds to work at its Rome creative studio.

Another Gucci Changemakers initiative is a volunteering programme for employees to use four paid days to volunteer, with activities ranging from helping refugees or the homeless to environmental protection, as well as teaching and promoting equality.

Meanwhile, $1.5 million will go towards financing scholarships for 70 fashion students in North America who will be selected by a specially created committee – the Changemakers Council – which comprises of 15 American personalities.

A further $5 million Changemakers Fund will finance initiatives benefiting local communities in several cities throughout North America while an additional $5 million will be allocated to a parallel fund dedicated to the Asia-Pacific region next year.

“I believe in dialogue, building bridges and taking quick action,” Gucci chief executive Marco Bizzarri said.

“This is why we started working immediately on the long-term infrastructure at Gucci to address our shortcomings.

“And now through our Changemakers program, we will invest important resources to unify and strengthen our communities across North America, with a focus on programs that will impact youth and the African-American community.”

The Gucci Changemakers programme is supported by designer Alessandro Michele, trans actress and model Hari Nef, and British actress Vanessa Redgrave.

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