BFC’s Jamie Gill wants to fix fashion’s talent diversity problem

Fashion businesses too often focus on diversifying their intern networks and junior positions, while the C-suite remains dominated by white middle-class, middle-aged men, Gill says. He aims to change that with The Outsider’s Perspective, by attracting experiences and highly skilled business talent who can enter at varying levels of fashion businesses, including on the leadership teams.

“Bringing together different experiences, perspectives and communities enriches creativity and innovation within Burberry and beyond,” says Geoffrey Williams, VP of DE&I at Burberry. “Alongside creative and design, operational roles ranging from finance to merchandising teams are crucial to the long-term success of businesses. We look forward to working with The Outsider’s Perspective and its partners to equip candidates with mentorship and resources, enabling them to explore new opportunities within the operational side of the fashion industry.”

Gill followed a non-linear path into fashion himself, starting his career at Deloitte before co-founding an Indian couture bridal brand and later joining Roksanda as CEO. He joined the British Fashion Council (BFC) executive board in September 2020, and became chair of the diversity and inclusion committee in May 2022. He’s experienced first-hand the difficulties in breaking into the industry as a person of colour and having done it, wants to open the door for others.

“You’ve got diverse talent in professional services with bankers, accountants, lawyers, whatever marketeers, who have woken up post-pandemic thinking, ‘I want to be in a creative space,’” he says. “But, they’re thinking ‘I can’t be a lawyer at Burberry.'” Once participants have completed the series of workshops, The Outsider’s Perspective will initiate networking events for them to meet potential employers from its partner organisations and help place them in employment.

The industry could benefit from the business diligence, analytical mindset and skillsets on processes that candidates in the professional services sector provide, Gill adds. “London is amazing for innovation. We have an abundance of creativity and future brands that have the prospects. But, [it needs to be] married with a diligent business skillset. That’s maybe why many [British luxury labels] are not scaling.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said in a statement: “London is a leading global city and renowned fashion capital, but there is still much work to be done to ensure that the industry fully reflects our city. That’s why I am delighted to support The Outsider’s Perspective — a brilliant and timely project that will build a workforce across the fashion industry that is truly representative.”

More broadly, through his work with the BFC, Gill has his work cut out when it comes to implementing change. The diversity and inclusion committee has set up various pillars, across education, mentorship and communications, he says. “What I’m working on now is to be quite clear and coherent around the vision and the goal for the British Fashion Council — on behalf of the British fashion industry — for diversity, and how we’re going to achieve that goal.”

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