VF Corp. said Thursday it is implementing new programs and actions to advance racial equity both within and outside the company.
The manufacturer of such brands as The North Face, Timberland, Vans, Dickies and Supreme said it is building on the company’s Council to Advance Racial Equity, or CARE, by adding a combination of actions and programs, community partners and public policy initiatives to address opportunity gaps that people of color are confronted when it comes to things like access to education, economic equity and environmental justice.
VF’s CARE recently established an initial set of commitments for VF to pursue, which directly align with the firm’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Action strategy. These commitments focus on a core set of actions supporting VF’s employees, communities, consumers and society more broadly.
Among the commitments, VF has set a goal to achieve 25 percent representation among Black, Indigenous and people of color within its staff at the director level and above by 2030.
To achieve this, VF has partnered with Pensole, an innovative footwear design academy that provides students with the knowledge required to become professional footwear designers. The collaboration will introduce students of color to VF’s Timberland, The North Face and Vans brands. Students will participate in a masterclass that will develop them into capable designers with substantial knowledge of the footwear and retail industry. Top performing students will earn the opportunity participate in yearlong rotational apprenticeship at VF’s brand offices to gain knowledge of each of the brands’ consumers, culture and ways of working, and to further develop their skills in footwear design.
In addition, VF will apply Mansfield Rule requirements, a recruitment benchmark originally developed for the legal industry, to its talent acquisition and development decisions across all company departments. The Mansfield Rule requires initial candidate slates to contain at least 50 percent diverse candidates, defined as women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals and individuals with disabilities when hiring or promoting candidates.
By 2024, VF says it will assess and resolve unidentified pay gaps for employees, sponsored athletes and influencers across the organization through a pay equity analysis. It will also leverage its annual goal-setting process to flow IDEA goals to all people managers. Directors and above will have a portion of their financial bonus tied to successful implementation of IDEA goals as evaluated through a formal performance review process.
Another initiative is that VF will create a supplier diversity program to double its spend with people of color- and women-owned businesses by 2025 through enterprise direct and indirect procurement and the activities of its brands.
Further, The VF Foundation, the philanthropic grant making arm of VF, will commit 10 percent of its annual U.S. grant funding to support community initiatives that advance VF’s racial equity strategy in alignment with the Foundation’s investment priorities.
VF’s vice presidents will commit three hours per quarter to mentoring employees of color within VF and individuals outside the company through community engagement. VF will also leverage talent boards and review processes to identify clear advancement plans for high-potential employees of color and proactively pair them with executive leaders for active sponsorship.
All VF employees will participate in a foundational inclusion and diversity learning journey to establish a culture of belonging, allyship and advocacy. VF says its leaders will play a key role in this commitment.
To further elevate its commitment to promote equity VF has partnered with the national nonprofit organization, Management Leadership for Tomorrow, as it launches Black Equity at Work, a first of its kind certification program designed to establish corporate standards around the support of racial equity. The Black Equity at Work certification will help VF develop a rigorous plan to pursue diversity goals and focus on equitable actions that impact people, purchasing and philanthropy. VF’s partnership with Black Equity at Work is expected to further the company’s efforts to create both internal and external accountability metrics and directly align overall commitments to racial equity through the work of CARE.
“We’re excited about our new partnership with Management Leadership for Tomorrow and its Black Equity at Work certification program as we take our support for social justice to the next level,” said Steve Rendle, VF’s chairman, president and chief executive officer. “At the same time, our partnership with Pensole directly aligns with our commitment to enable racial equity for marginalized communities with a specific focus on uplifting the Black and brown communities which have been traditionally underrepresented in the fashion and design space.
“Given the profound inequalities that negatively impact the lives and livelihood of Black and brown Americans the actions we are taking through our CARE initiative, combined with our strategic partnerships at the corporate and brand levels, are critical steps to elevating and accelerating our work to promote racial equity. We are committed to the actions we’ve outlined and will hold ourselves accountable for making meaningful progress and leading by example,” Rendle said.
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