Ralph Lauren’s downward path to gender parity

Roseann Lynch, director of human resources at Ralph Lauren, tells Drapers how the luxury brand became the only fashion company to make the annual list of “Best Companies for Women to Advance”. It reveals what more the company wants to do to maintain gender parity.

Since Ralph Lauren became a founding member of Parity Pledge [equality-in-leadership lobby group Parity.org’s campaign in which companies pledge to interview and consider at least one qualified woman and/or person of colour for every open vice-president, C-suite and board position] five years ago, we focused on achieving and maintaining gender parity.

We quickly accelerated our efforts to hire more women at leadership levels across our company and delivered on our commitment to include female candidates for every vacant position at the vice president level and above. As part of this, we have also stepped up our efforts to advance women already in our talent pool, with targeted development programs focusing on mentoring, management skills training, and leadership and executive coaching. .

In 2020, we achieved parity in our leadership ranks – at the VP level and above – three years ahead of our 2023 target, and we continued our commitment to ensuring the presence of women in our candidate lists. for each open senior position.

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Representation is important, but we know it cannot stand on its own. Gender equity can only be achieved when we create the conditions for women to thrive at work and at home. That’s why we have proactive mechanisms in place to audit our compensation practices and ensure pay parity across gender, race and ethnicity. We take a proactive approach to paying fairly and continually monitor our compensation programs to ensure fairness. In fiscal year 2022, for example, we moved from biennial to annual reviews and expanded our gender pay equity assessment globally.

We have also established a new partnership with the creator of a software platform used to analyze our employees’ compensation based on gender, race and ethnicity. This platform allows us to compare employee compensation rates, identify compensation models more accurately, and determine corrective actions needed to ensure fair compensation.

We continued to expand our gender-neutral benefit offerings, including gender-affirming care coverage, elder and child care, as well as adoption and reproductive health care services.

It is crucial that this work extends beyond our walls. Last year, we were honored to join the United Nations Resilience Fund for Women in Global Value Chains as a founding investor to support the health, safety and economic resilience of women who constitute the backbone of global supply chains.

We also work with organizations such as HERproject from Business for Social Responsibility [a network and consultancy focusing on sustainability] increase the number of women in factory leadership and empower factory workers, most of whom are women, through in-depth life skills training, personal health education and professional development programs .

In fiscal year 2022, we co-sponsored HERessentials adaptation and pilot project in India to build workers’ adaptability and resilience in the face of crisis through digital learning. This app-based program engages workers and managers on health, financial inclusion and gender equality.

In FY23, we will sponsor the adaptation and pilot of HERessential in Guatemala, which is a country of focus for our women’s empowerment work. HERhealth trainings completed at Ralph Lauren supplier factories have reported positive results, such as an average increase of 36 percentage points in the number of women using menstrual hygiene products and an average increase of 13 percentage points in number of women using modern family planning methods. . They also report on average a 35 percentage point increase in the number of women who strongly agree with having a lot of confidence talking to management about a work-related issue.

To date, these programs have reached nearly 43,000 workers, 66% of whom identify as women, exceeding our goal of reaching 40,000 workers through the HER project by 2023.

Beyond these efforts, in 2019 we brought together leading fashion houses and retail organizations for an open discussion on barriers to gender parity, the industry’s approach to change and the steps needed to collectively close the gender gap. These conversations led to Unlocking Gender Parity in Fashion – a roadmap [offering practical solutions to accelerate progress toward gender parity, focusing on best practices in recruitment, executive preparedness, benefits and policies] for the fashion industry to achieve global gender equity and equal pay, co-authored with Parity.Org and industry peers.

While we are proud of our momentum, we know this work will never end and we will continue to make significant progress in the years to come.

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