Gucci invests $10m in diversity program

Luxury apparel retailer Gucci has invested US$10 million into a diversity program to foster inclusion within the firm.

The Gucci Changemakers scheme responds to public outcry over a black turtleneck jumper released by the brand with a mouth slit highlighted by thick red lips, resembling blackface makeup.

Gucci promptly pulled the controversial item from sale and issued an apology.

“Gucci deeply apologises for the offence caused by the wool balaclava jumper,” said the brand in a press statement. “We consider diversity to be a fundamental value to be fully upheld, respected, and at the forefront of every decision we make.”

The Gucci Changemakers program, launched internally last year, is reing ramped up in the wake of the scandal. It will involve the recruitment of a global director for diversity and inclusion and a training scheme to bolster cultural awareness amongst all 18,000 global staff, as well as an internal exchange program that will bring five staff from diverse backgrounds to work in its creative studio in Rome. The scheme will also provide paid leave for employees to volunteer at various social programs.

Further initiatives will provide scholarships for fashion students in North America and make funds available to benefit communities in several North American cities and in the Asia-Pacific region.

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

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