Photo via: Business of Fashion
In a brand new role for H&M, the retail company has appointed Ezinne Kwubiri as the Head of Inclusion and Diversity for North America.
The appointment comes less than a year after H&M faced backlash for its racially and culturally insensitive marketing image featuring a young Black boy wearing one of its "Coolest Monkey in the Jungle" hoodies. Since then, the Swedish retail giant has hired a Global Diversity Leader and now a Head of Inclusion and Diversity, North America in an effort to increase diversity and authentic representation in all areas of its business.
Kwubiri's new role includes working closely with the company's Global Head of Inclusivity and Diversity, Annie Wu, and leading H&M's new diversity initiatives. She told the Business of Fashion in an interview:
"I see myself as the new blood, the new person in the office that is coming with a fresh perspective. I want to challenge the mindset across the board, from the way we do our promotions, to our hiring process, to how we interact with our employees and customers, as well as their communities— who all deserve our support and celebration."
In doing so, Kwubiri, who previously served as Viacom's Director of Change Management, Global Business Services, explained how H&M plans to achieve this.
"We knew we did not want to build our strategy in a reactionary way — filled with the unconscious biases it is being designed to tackle. So, it was really important that we put real data and information first in coming up with our plan. Prior to my joining, the global office in Sweden did a lot of the legwork as far as looking into what our employees are saying and how our customers are feeling. In addition to that, we've partnered with external consultants in order to provide further demographic data and launched a series of focus groups that we've conducted with our customers as well as internally. This is to take the temperature of the brand, to see how people feel when they think about H&M and see this in data we can use to create positive change."
As a result, Kwburi said, "for the US, we are seeking to do three things, to educate and raise awareness, to become better advocates for the communities we are a part of, and finally to challenge the status quo and accepted mindset about how we achieve things."
Positive and authentic representation matters and we look forward to Ezinne bringing more to H&M in her new role.
Click here to read her full interview.