For the second time, Black in Corporate and Kering Americas have teamed for a virtual mentorship program and applications are now being accepted.
This time around, the program will be for three months, versus one month previously, to give participants better grounding for their careers. Those who make the final cut will be paired with individuals across Kering Americas executives in departments such as marketing and advertising; project management and operations; human resources; financial services; legal; media and communications, and technology. About 22 mentees will be accepted this time – two more than the inaugural group. Interest is once again expected to be stronger than the 400 to 500 people who applied for the first program, according to BIC founder and chief executive officer Candace Marie Stewart.
Applications close March 9 and the program will start April 7.
In the “State of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in Fashion” survey that was conducted in 2021, 50 percent employees of color reported that a career in the fashion industry is not equally accessible to all qualified candidates, and nearly one in four questioned the meritocracy of opportunities.
Stewart launched her organization’s virtual mentorship program through her Black in Corporate Initiative to create a cross-industry resource that champions Black professionals. Relocating to different cities or getting jobs with large corporations can be challenging. People often get jobs “based on who they know or the mentors they have stayed connected with,” she said. ”If you have never really been in that space, you cannot be top-of-mind [as a candidate] or oblivious essentially. Even the partnership with Kering came about because one of my mentors was in Kering,” Stewart said.
In a statement, Laurent Claquin, president of Kering Americas, said that the group “prioritizes learning and development at all stages of one’s career and understands the critical role that mentorship serves in navigating our industry, especially for BIPOC talent whose experiences can include systemic obstacles and racial biases.”
Stewart noted how the first iteration of the mentorship program occurred in 2021, “when there was the pressure of [the] Black Lives Matter [movement] and social media, where people were saying things [about companies’ actions or inaction].” But Kering approached BIC about a second installment, recognizing “the vital need” and that the program was doing “so well,” Stewart said, “That spoke volumes, since there wasn’t the pressure of what someone might say.”
BIC’s objective is “to do something that would actually move the needle” and help people with their career trajectories, and that appears to be happening with Kering, she said. Referring to a survey of the inaugural mentees, Stewart, “People said they were going to take the mentorship and keep going, because when you are connected with the right person it can change your career and your life.