Today, February 26, the Council of American Fashion Designers (CFDA) launches Impact, a talent directory for Black and brown creatives in partnership with job platform Creatively where BIPOC fashion creatives can post their resumes and work to be evaluated by companies with open positions, as well as a place where those companies are posting jobs.
The initiative follows a summer of racial reckonings across various industries that had been bubbling under the surface for hundreds of years, brought to a head by the murder of George Floyd amidst a global pandemic. And the fashion industry was not exempt. “Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement to take action and create sustainable change against the social and economic marginalisation of Black people, Impact addresses the decades-long system of exclusion of Black talent in the industry with hopes to create a blueprint for other industries to follow,” a release for the launch reads.
According to the release, the CFDA is taking an individual, company, and industry approach to building greater representation and autonomy. The CFDA conducted a study with Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation (PVH) on the state of diversity, equity, inclusion and found that Black employees feel less prepared for their first job search. Through Impact, the CFDA hopes to rectify this with open access, group mentoring, industry programming, and community building, to support and nurture BIPOC creatives and professionals.
“The Impact program is launching because of the mandate from our Board, membership, and Black talent in the industry, which posted on social media, wrote articles online and participated in panels to urge for more equitable representation in fashion, CaSandra Diggs, President of the CFDA tells Grazia USA. “To the extent that my presidency in recognition of my 20-year career with the organisation aligns with the current focus of CFDA and the industry at large is only a sign that positive change is taking hold. I’m thrilled to be leading this effort with our Black Advisory Board and the CFDA Internal Impact team, who are all professionals of colour, and proving that when underrepresented individuals get a seat at the table and the power to make decisions, we can help change the game for the better.”
On how the CFDA will work to build trust with Black and brown creatives to join the database, Diggs says that will come through the organisation’s actions. “People have to have faith that we are on their side and will do what we promised,” she explained. “In June of 2020, the CFDA declared that it would create programming that connected Black talent to industry jobs and mentorships. We have now launched our Impact initiative, which aims to identify, connect, support, and nurture Black and Brown talent in fashion. The establishment and continued efforts placed into this programming are the fulfilment of our pledge.”
The platform is launching this Friday, February 26, with Tory Burch, Skims, Gap, and Saks Off 5th, among others. Additional brands have committed to using Impact when they have open full- or part-time positions, freelance opportunities, or paid internships. The CFDA will promote the participation of young creatives through its work with SUNY and CUNY schools, HBCUs, and other fashion programs.
“The effectiveness of our attempts is ultimately determined firstly by the growth of the pipeline and advancement of those in the pipeline, secondly by the brands’ adoption of the platform as a premier recruitment tool for their talent acquisition strategy, and lastly by the sustained level of engagement between talent and brands on the platform,” Diggs said.