In the weeks ahead, fashion firms will be reporting on efforts to become better corporate citizens on multiple fronts.
Corporate citizenship—the extent to which businesses meet their social responsibilities, whether in connection to climate change or diversity and inclusivity in the workplace—has been on the rise for over a decade. It wasn’t until more recently that fashion firms have taken a concerted effort to improve their carbon footprint, with companies now reporting on target goals and how they are meeting them each year. Tapestry on Thursday was the latest company to report on paring back emissions. Another area that’s been a focus on the social responsibility front is the ability to create a diverse and inclusive workplace. Both climate change and diversity and inclusivity are among the 17 sustainable development goals that were adopted in September 2015 by the United Nations‘ General Assembly to change the world. The goals are part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
On Thursday, three fashion firms—Abercrombie & Fitch Co., Neiman Marcus Group and VF Corp.—reported on their ranking on the Human Rights Campaign’s 2022 Corporate Equality Index (CEI). The Index is now 20 years old and serves as the benchmark survey to measures corporate policies and practices in the workplace. The three companies are part of the 842 businesses that met all the criteria to earn a 100 percent rating. These businesses also receive the designation of being a 2022 “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality.” The CEI rating criteria has four key pillars: nondiscrimination policies, equitable benefits for LGBTQ+ workers and their families, support for an inclusive culture and corporate social responsibility.
Abercrombie & Fitch
The company said it has received a perfect score on the CEI for the 16th consecutive year.
“This rating is a testament to the values that guide our company and to our corporate purpose, which is to be here for you on the journey to being and becoming who you are,” Fran Horowitz, CEO, said. “We strive to weave this purpose, as well as our support of the LGBTQ+ community, throughout our company’s policies, benefits, culture, brand partnerships, marketing, product collections and more. We look forward to continuing these efforts throughout 2022 and beyond.”
The company said it has several internal initiatives in place to uplift its LGBTQ+ associates and allies. Those initiatives include a Pride associate resource group, ongoing educational resources, training materials and programming to foster workplace equity and inclusion of all gender expressions. The company also has partnered with The Trevor Project since 2010, the largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ+ young people. Since 2017, it also partnered with GLSEN, the national education organization creating a safe and inclusive K-12 schools for all youth, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
Neiman Marcus Group
Neiman’s also revealed it earned a 100 score on the CEI due to a “number of newly incorporated benefits and policies,” and called it a “significant milestone” for the luxury retailer.
“As a result of the index, the company has enhanced its policies and Code of Conduct to include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity and expression and gender transition guidelines,” the retailer said.
“As a gay man and one of a few openly gay CEOs, it has been a mission of mine to ensure that all associates feel like they belong at Neiman Marcus Group,” Geoffroy van Raemdonck, CEO, said. He added that there is “still significant work that needs to be done. I am personally committed to this mission and am excited to continue evolving our Belonging programs, partnerships, and initiatives at NMG to ensure every community is seen, heard, and supported.”
The retailer hosted a 2021 Black Tie Dinner in Dallas to benefit Human Rights Campaign Foundation—it presented a $250,000 donation to the organization to support lobbying efforts, including $100,000 from customer contributions raised at point-of-sale during Pride Month in June—and other Dallas nonprofits that support the LGBTQ+ community.
“VF is incredibly proud to be recognized by Human Rights Campaign Foundation as one of the best places to work for LGBTQ+ equality with a perfect score of 100 percent,” Lauren Guthrie, vice president, global inclusion, diversity, equity and action, said. “At VF, we strive to create and sustain an enabling environment where all our associates, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, can feel supported, safe and celebrated at work. To our LGBTQ+ colleagues and their allies, we celebrate this honor with you and we stand with you every day.”
VF’s inclusion strategy launched in 2017, and led to enhanced benefits for associates, diverse employee resource groups, a global respectful workplace policy and the company’s first disability employment program.
The last time VF achieved the perfect score of 100 in the CEI was in 2020, which also represented the fourth consecutive year apparel giant earned the top distinction.