Burberry, BFC back Jamie Gill's new diversity incubator The Outsiders Perspective
A new talent incubator that aims to tackle the lack of diversity in the fashion industry is being backed by Burberry, among others. Specifically targeting people of colour, The Outsiders Perspective is being launched this month by fashion industry leader Jamie Gill to ensure chosen participants “are proficiently equipped to enter the operational side of the fashion business at an elevated level”.
It aims to bring more people of colour into roles including sales, merchandising, operations, digital, HR, marketing & PR, legal and finance. Chosen participants must have four years-plus professional experience with transferable skills “to help fast-track talent to the higher echelons of the industry”.
A five-week recruitment drive has begun to fill 25 spots in its 'pilot cohort' scheme. The programme will include workshops, where they will be given "an overview of the nuances of the fashion industry", and networking sessions to facilitate introductions to potential employers.
The platform is also working with industry leaders and partnering with fashion businesses who are looking to address their diversity talent issues. The Outsiders Perspective is backed by Burberry, Zalando, The British Fashion Council, Deloitte, The Mayor of London’s Office, and communications agency Karla Otto.
Gill established the scheme after finding that while diversity has improved in the public facing side of fashion, the behind-the-scenes sector finds just 5% of industry employees are people of colour.
"We know the reasons underpinning this statistic are twofold," Gill told Forbes Magazine. "Fashion is not seen as a viable career avenue by many ethnic minority communities due to several cultural and social mobility factors. The world of law, finance and in my case, consultancy, are seen as much ‘safer’ options for candidates who perhaps lack the personal and financial networks needed to enter a more seemingly ‘risky’ arena like fashion.
"What’s more when you look behind the curtain at how the industry operates, there is a severe lack of ethnic representation working on the less creative but no-less essential roles – the finance directors, the sales directors and the operations managers. Aside from the macro fashion brands which most of us know, the reality is the fashion industry is made up of small- to medium-sized brands where there is no clear professional training ground for sourcing talent. I want to help change this.”
Gill entered the industry having worked at Deloitte London where his client portfolio spanned luxury goods and real estate. He then left the corporate world and went to India where he co-founded a luxury apparel start-up before returning to the UK in 2016 to join an investment fund focused on luxury fashion. This took him to British brand Roksanda, where he has been CEO since 2018. In September 2020, Gill joined the Executive Board of the British Fashion Council to support the fight against prejudice and discrimination in the industry.
He added that he hoped that by London Fashion Week in February 2023, he would be able to update on the first intake of candidates and on more partner businesses.
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