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This Fashion House Wants To Maximize Diversity At The Top

Diversity and inclusion has been integral to Tapestry’s DNA from the beginning — here’s why.

For Victor Luis, CEO of Tapestry — the modern luxury fashion house that includes Coach, Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman — inclusivity has always been important. It started to play an integral role for Luis and his leadership team, however, when Coach evolved to form a house of brands.

“We spoke to employees around the world, we asked what mattered to them, and across all three brands, we discovered that optimism, innovation and inclusivity were the three values that were most important to us,” said Luis, who is Portuguese-American.

As an obvious next step, Luis and his team began having more authentic conversations internally about how to bring those values to life. As a result, there are plans to implement an inclusion council dedicated to fostering future diversity and inclusion efforts. Luis has also hosted a “Day of Understanding,” as well as “coffee catch-ups” with director-level employees. These people, he says, will be the next generation of leaders.

These actions caught the attention of many employees, among them Denise Wallen-Grant, senior director of retail allocation for Coach North America. As a first-generation Jamaican-American woman looking to increase diversity at the leadership level, she was thrilled at the company’s initiatives. Wallen-Grant has climbed the ladder, not just at Tapestry, but in the retail industry overall, working at retail stores in college before moving to the corporate side, where she thrives today.

“Here, the culture is pretty diverse and everyone’s kind and welcoming,” she said. “But I inherited my team, and when I had the opportunity to hire, I definitely sought out diversity.”

She added, “In the stores and lower level individual contributors, you see a lot of diversity, but as you work your way up through the ranks — middle management, executive leadership, senior leadership — it begins to dissipate a little bit. So, I think there’s a lot of opportunity there.”

This falls directly in line with what Luis wants for the company. “With our 2025 initiatives around sustainability, one of the key topics is having an entire organization, including the most senior levels, be much more reflective of the communities in which we live,” he said. “And indeed, we’re much more reflective of our consumers who are indeed very, very diverse and very global.”

Joined by Y-Vonne Hutchinson, a D&I expert and CEO of the company Ready Set, Wallen-Grant and Luis sat down for the first time and discussed the steps necessary to make this kind of change, the importance of unconscious bias training and the special sauce that makes Tapestry different than other luxury brands.

This meeting was part of an initiative led by CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion™, the largest CEO-led business coalition to advance diversity and inclusion in the U.S. Luis is among the 600-plus CEOs committed to the coalition who have pledged to support more inclusive workplaces.

To see more of Luis and Wallen-Grant’s conversation, and to learn more about Tapestry’s diversity and inclusion initiatives, watch the video above, sponsored by PwC.

From PwC:

PwC’s new series, Beyond The Bottom Line, produced in association with the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion™, follows CEOs as they meet their employees face-to-face to discuss the issues that matter. With more than 600 CEOs committed, CEO Action is the largest CEO-led business coalition focused on advancing diversity and inclusion in the U.S. To learn more, visit CEOAction.com.

This article was paid for by PwC and co-created by RYOT Studio. HuffPost editorial staff did not participate in the creation of this content.

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