The British Fashion Council describes ‘The Fashion DEI [Diversity, Equality and Inclusion] Census’ as the “first of its kind” and says it aims to foster collective action and engagement across all levels of the industry.

It is being carried out in partnership with The Outsiders Perspective, a non-profit platform for people of colour and The (Fashion) Minority Report, which is a learning and career development platform to support those that are underrepresented in the fashion industry.

The audit, which is open to all individuals currently working within the UK fashion sector, seeks to uncover insights into the industry’s demographics. With an emphasis on inclusivity, the census encourages participation from diverse backgrounds and roles, ranging from entry-level positions to executive leadership.

The BFC notes in response to global social justice movements and the growing demand for transparent DEI practices, companies are under increasing pressure to evaluate and reshape their commitments and strategies.

The BFC believe the absence of comprehensive data reporting has hindered its ability to quantify any progress made.

The Outsiders Perspective’s founder Jamie Gill urges industry-wide engagement with the launch of census: “It is a five-minute exercise which could really help transform our industry. This survey is for everybody to fill in, irrespective of your background – it is our collective responsibility to step up, take part and pass it on.”

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Conducted through an anonymous self-declaration survey, the Fashion DEI Census aims to capture demographic data spanning various roles:

  • Retail, brand, media, agency, freelancers
  • Functions – marketing, operations, HR, finance, store management
  • Seniorities – from graduates to C-suite executives

The audit’s design ensures participants’ personal information and workplace details remain confidential, focusing on a collective overview of the industry’s composition.

The Fashion Minority Report’s founder Daniel Peters underlines the importance of collaboration and adds: “It is imperative that we gain this insight from across all levels of seniority, roles and identities, allowing us to build a broad understanding of the identities of our workforce, and the ways that we can collectively drive impactful change for those who remain underrepresented.”

The BFC’s chief executive Caroline Rush explains the last few years have been a wake-up call for the industry to address the imbalances in the workplace from board to entry-level positions and states:

“There is an alarming lack of industry-wide data on the demographics of the UK fashion workforce, making it exceedingly difficult to track our progress. By gaining invaluable data insight into the UK fashion industry’s key demographics through this audit, we can accelerate tangible change to ensure fair representation and a truly inclusive workforce.”

The Fashion DEI Census represents the first phase of a comprehensive evaluation of DEI in the UK fashion industry, according to the BFC.

The collected data will inform a broader report set to be published later this year, as part of a pilot programme led by the three organisations.

This report will provide crucial insights into the current state of DEI in the industry, along with a best practice playbook designed to guide future progress towards measurable and meaningful change.

The BFC and Roland Berger issued a report in in March, aimed at tackling high returns rates which they say generated 750,000 tonnes of CO₂ emissions in 2022.

The BFC also collaborated with the UK Fashion & Textile Association (UKFT) in June to become co-chairs of a new government-funded circular fashion programme that aimed to lead the development of a circular fashion ecosystem within the UK.