Gucci Hires Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Response to Blackface Scandal

Gucci has recently appointed a diversity chief a few months after it received negative publicity for selling a racist sweater.

The company announced on July 30 that Renée Tirado will serve as the new global head of diversity, equity and inclusion, The Hollywood Reporter reported. In a statement to the publication, CEO and President of Gucci, Marco Bizzari said Tirado will help the Italian fashion brand “to put culture — self-expression and inclusivity — at the center of what we do.”

“Since 2015, [Gucci’s creative director] Alessandro [Michele] and I have worked to put culture — self-expression and inclusivity — at the center of what we do,” Bizzarri said. “This appointment is a fundamental building block to further our commitment and support the initiatives already in place. As a learning organization, we have challenged ourselves over the last few months to accelerate our vision to develop a strong organization.”

“I am confident that Renée will help us create the meaningful change we want to see not only in our company but in the fashion industry… Renée believes that diversity and equity should be a daily way of being,” he continued.

Tirado, an attorney, was previously the chief diversity and inclusion officer for Major League Baseball (MLB). Through the MLB’s Diversity Pipeline program called “Take the Field,” Tirado helped with the vetting and hiring process of diverse candidates for baseball operations on the field, Forbes previously reported. The program was launched in 2018 and accepted 50 pre-selected women who were pursuing roles traditionally held by men. “The operations side is what you see on the field,” Tirado previously told Forbes. “There was no real launch pad for the females to get the exposure. This came from me attending a program the NFL does to help females who want to become coaches. We tweaked it for baseball.”

Tirado held a similar position at the finance and insurance company AIG and at the United States Tennis Association, according to The Hollywood Reporter. In her new role at Gucci, she will hire a global team “to create a more inclusive and equitable workplace and increase workforce diversity as it relates to Gucci’s business and initiatives,” the brand released in a statement. She will also work with the Gucci Changemakers Council, which is a “community fund and scholarship program for North America alongside a global volunteering program,” according to a previous statement from the company. “I am in the business of making human connections that start with the foundation of inclusivity, respect, and diversity to ensure Gucci remains culturally relevant and economically competitive. I am honored to join a company that puts these non-negotiable values at the forefront of their business model, not as a ‘nice to have’ but as a key component of its business strategy,” Tirado said in a statement. In February, the luxury brand issued an apology after releasing a sweater that resembled blackface, NPR previously reported. The black sweater featured a roll-up collar that covered the face under the nose with a wide red lip outline around the mouth. The garment was a part of Gucci’s Fall Winter 2018 line and was worth $890. The sweater caused outrage on social media and the Italian fashion house issued an apology for the offensive piece of clothing.

“We can confirm that the item has been removed from our online store and all physical stores,” the statement read. “We consider diversity to be a fundamental value to be fully upheld, respected, and at the forefront of every decision we make. We are fully committed to increasing diversity throughout our organization and turning this incident into a powerful learning moment for the Gucci team and beyond.”

Gucci is not the only fashion retailer to recently issue an apology over a racist piece of clothing. In January 2018, H&M issued an apology after a promotional image showed a Black child wearing a hooded sweatshirt that read “coolest monkey in the jungle” was featured on its online store. “We are deeply sorry that the picture was taken, and we also regret the actual print,” the company said in a statement, according to The New York Times. “Therefore, we have not only removed the image from our channels, but also the garment from our product offering globally.”

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.