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Following powerful and poignant conversations across our global community last week, this message was shared with our team.
At Ralph Lauren, we have always felt that part of our Purpose is to inspire dreams. This idea is core to who we are as a Company and the values we have embraced for more than 50 years. But you cannot dream without hope. And racial injustice and inequality are the enemies of hope.
The senseless and unjust deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery—and the many who have come before them—have profoundly highlighted the systemic racism and racial injustice that is woven into American society. This is an American problem. It is a global problem. It is a fashion problem. It is our problem. This is ours to face and ours to fix.
The reckoning the United States is facing has also made clear to us that the current reality for our Black and African American colleagues does not fully align with our values and what we stand for. So now is the time for us to look inward, expand on the work we have done, and take real, meaningful action to ensure our values are truly reflected in every person’s individual experience at our Company and with our brands.
The realities we are now confronting have not manifested themselves only in the last month. What has changed, however, is the rightful urgency of the voices demanding that we finally face these truths. We heard these voices inside our own Company when more than 3,000 of you joined our Conversations of Understanding and roundtables last week. The dialogue was honest and often painful, and whether you bravely shared or intently listened, we want to thank each and every one of you for participating. These conversations will continue because we believe in the transformative power of dialogue.
But we recognise that, while dialogue is a much-needed first step, it is not enough. We will also look critically at the structures and practices inside our Company, how we use our voice as a leader in our industry, and the role we play in portraying American culture.
To start this process of meaningful change, we are expanding our existing multicultural D&I group, “Mosaic,” established last year, by creating an Advisory Group with a focus on amplifying Black and African American voices inside our Company. This group will be at the table as our additional initiatives are put into action—empowered to directly advise our Executive Leadership Team as we build a culture that reflects our values for everyone.
We are also committing to the following early steps, which build on our existing programs. While each of these represents a firm commitment, they are just a starting point for our efforts. Our Advisory Group, as well as our D&I Teams and Communities, will help to inform and evolve our approach.
Inside our Company, we are committing to taking the following actions:Educate.
We will provide unconscious bias and microaggression training, building on the program we started in 2018. Training has begun to roll out and will be completed by all managers by the end of July and our entire employee population by October. Going forward, the training will be required for all new hires. It introduces important concepts, like how to have a constructive dialogue about bias and how leaders can elevate and amplify diverse voices on their teams.Support Talent.
We will continue to disclose the racial and ethnic makeup of our employee base. We commit to elevating more Black and African American talent into our leadership ranks. For every open role at the Vice President level or above, we will interview at least one Black or African American candidate as well as at least one candidate from other underrepresented groups. We will also ensure that Black or African American colleagues as well as other people of colour on our teams are part of our career development and mentorship programs. Our goal is to reflect the communities we serve—in our leadership and across the entire Company.Facilitate Dialogue.
We will continue to create safe spaces for dialogue that can break down barriers and build community inside the Company by formalising our Conversations of Understanding and roundtables.
We want to build a future in which the world of fashion is as diverse as our customer base. Externally, we will take the following actions:Use Our Brand Voice.
We will examine how we portray the American Dream—in the stories we tell, the creators we champion, the faces we elevate, the families we hero, and the media partners we support.Partner.
We will invest in areas like recruitment and mentorship with outside partners, nonprofits, and academic institutions—including our existing partner, the United Negro College Fund, as well as Historically Black Colleges and Universities.Hold Our Network Accountable.
We will build a set of diversity expectations for our partners and vendors, as we have already begun to do in the area of sustainability.Support Our Communities.
We will build on our commitment to giving and volunteering by empowering our teams to identify opportunities in the communities where they, and our customers, work and live.To our Black and African American colleagues and people of colour in our Company—we hear you, we stand with you, and we commit to do better by you. We will build on the foundations we have in place and actively deepen our work, while holding onto the values that should be universally felt by anyone who interacts with our Company or our brands—values like authenticity, dignity, and respect for one another. We will accelerate our pace of progress, and we will take action today, tomorrow, and into a better future.