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  • MAP Asia Pacific Ltd

How Can the Luxury Industry Become More Inclusive?

A series of headline-grabbing missteps by high-fashion brands in recent years — for example, Dolce & Gabbana’s culturally offensive ads in China — set the luxury goods industry on a mission to self-correct a historic lack of diversity in its ranks.

The market has made a lot of progress in a short time by creating diversity councils, appointing chief diversity officers and developing special programs for underrepresented groups. The effort hasn’t gone unnoticed: In its second annual Diversity Leaders List, the Financial Times noted the leaps forward made by the industry as a whole and brands, such as Hermes and Giorgio Armani, in particular. But the very definition of luxury seems contrary to equality, raising questions about whether the industry can truly commit to the cause.

“I think it’s important to note that, by design, many luxury businesses are actually exclusive. That’s what we see in the media, that it’s something that only few people are supposed to touch,” Wharton management professor Stephanie Creary said. “So, it seems a little bit of a paradox that an exclusive industry can actually begin to embrace the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion.”



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