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An open letter to our clients and our community

I have always been a words person. I wanted to be a writer before I understood how I would make a living doing that, and ended up spending the first 15 years of my career as a journalist and editor before joining WGSN. Words are powerful things, but they aren’t everything.

Over the past few weeks, since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, at the hands of the police, and the subsequent wave of protests in the US and across the globe, much has been written and much promised.

Today, I ask that rather than judge my words, you judge our actions. And not our actions today, but the actions we take in the weeks, months and years to come.

Last Friday we sent a letter to our clients to communicate and share our commitment to diversity and inclusion. We also want to share it with our wider community. If you are someone or know someone who could benefit from the mentorship scheme, please email mentor@wgsn.com

As a company, WGSN is committed to diversity and inclusion, both within our organisation and in the way we empower and support the many creative industries that rely on our services. We are here to guide your decisions, based on the world around us all, and to do that job, it is imperative that we truly understand the changes that are needed.

The global response to recent events has been a timely reminder that we can and must do more. Much, much more.

Last week, I asked the leader of a new internal team we have set up here at WGSN, Amiyra Perkins, to write this letter, and the response from both you, our clients, and the wider WGSN community was overwhelmingly positive. She promised then, and I reiterate now, that we are not planning just to talk or write about what could be done, but to dig deep and examine our own business and also the advice and insight we deliver to you.

Our commitment to change at WGSN is threefold:

Insight: to ensure the advice, analysis and insight our platforms deliver to clients across all creative industries enables you to better serve your customers from underrepresented groups, including people of colour, with the products you create, the experiences you deliver and the communications plans that reflect these voices or communities. Your account team can point you in the direction of content on our platforms that already delves into consumer values on these topics as part of our Future Consumer reports, and there will be much more to follow.

Education and opportunity: I believe one of the ways WGSN can have the biggest impact is by creating pathways for those in underrepresented groups into creative industries, including fashion, beauty, interiors, media, entertainment, travel, food and more. We already have a significant charity partnership with the Prince’s Trust in the UK and have begun conversations with other organisations elsewhere in the world as a starting point. We will also be focusing our paid internships to reflect this mission, and, in addition, we are announcing today a new mentoring and WGSN access scheme for young black fashion designers. This will be a rolling scheme with new cohorts each year, ensuring all people of colour get the opportunity to apply. For the full criteria, please email mentor@wgsn.com and feel free to send this on to contacts who may wish to join the scheme.

People: to work harder to understand the barriers to entry and progress in our business, looking at representation across all levels of the company. We will be examining our organisational culture and seeking solutions through reviewing processes, policies and education for all our global teams. I am listening and learning on this front every day. It will take time, and we will take advice from expert partners to get there. We will explore the right measures we can put in place in our hiring processes to ensure we achieve the right representation in our teams.

 

In summary, in order for us to create true representation, we will educate ourselves, improve our organisation, and aim to influence our community in a way that creates a better, more equitable world.

 

I will write again to you all in a month’s time with updates on the three areas above, and regularly from that point forward. The minutes of our Equality Vision meetings will also be available for anyone to read, and I look forward to your input and thoughts.

Change – whether for an industry or an organisation – requires leadership and individual commitment. I am incredibly proud of and grateful to the brilliant individuals within WGSN, and those of you who have reached out in the past weeks to so generously give me your time to explain exactly what you are going through and educate me on what you need. I will be doing my personal best, alongside my WGSN colleagues, to use everything we have to change this world for the better.

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