• Tiffany & Co. launched a new diversity program to increase variety in the fashion industry.
  • The program, the Tiffany Atrium, will support interns and students from marginalized backgrounds.
  • Black fashion influencers said the program is an exciting step for the legacy brand. 

Tiffany & Co. is Audrey Hepburn window-shopping at "Breakfast at Tiffany's." It's dainty, bright-aqua jewelry boxes and thick silver-heart necklaces with the hefty price of $800 to match. Since its founding in the 1800s, the brand has always been refined, classic, and largely out of reach for most. 

But consumers and employees are pushing major fashion brands to be more diverse and inclusive in the wake of 2020's racial-justice protests, and Tiffany is no exception. On Wednesday, the jewelry house launched a new social-impact plan focused on supporting Black artists and fashion professionals of color. 

Tiffany is investing in another round of diversity-and-inclusion plans after setting initial goals in this area in 2020. The move is similar to those other style-and-beauty brands like Burberry, Chanel, Sephora, and Ulta — all of whom have put together new commitments to inclusion — have recently made.

It's a noteworthy moment and is likely to bring in a more diverse consumer base and workforce, Black fashion critics told Insider. They said they hope this is the beginning, not the final, point of the brand's diversity journey. 

"When I think of Tiffany, I think of old money. I think of the upper class immediately," Sierra Mayhew, a New York City-based fashion influencer, said. "This is a really great opportunity to take a luxury brand and make it more accessible to everyone and make everyone feel included in what it means to be luxury. I think this will diversify who Tiffany is."  

Diversifying a notoriously exclusive industry 

The Tiffany Atrium, which invests in Black designers and artists, could have ripple effects, fashion influencers said. Foto: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Tiffany & Co.'s new initiative follows a 2021 marketing collaboration and philanthropic fund supporting historically Black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, with Beyoncé and Jay-Z. Mayhew said she's encouraged by these two moves, hopeful that Tiffany & Co. will continue to support and invest in Black creatives. 

"If Tiffany continues to push this initiative on diversity and inclusion and let their customers know that this is something that's part of who we are now, I think that that would really be impactful," Mayhew said. 

The plan is called the Tiffany Atrium and consists of three things: a company apprenticeship designed for eight up-and-coming creatives from historically underrepresented groups, a $2-million pledge supporting Black students attending historically Black colleges and universities in partnership with Beyoncé and Jay-Z, and a partnership with North Carolina A&T University to support art and fashion education at multiple HBCUs. 

The luxury brand, which the couture house LVMH acquired in 2021, also is auctioning artwork by Derrick Adams, a visual-and-performance artist whose work often centers around Black identity and culture. Profits from the sales will support a Baltimore-based retreat program for Black creatives.  

Tiffany & Co. is auctioning work by Derrick Adams, a visual-and-performance artist whose work often centers around Black identity and culture. Profits from the sales will help support Black creatives. Foto: Paula Mansilla/Tiffany & Co.

Tonya Parker, a Virginia-based style blogger, said that the initiative will likely have ripple effects. 

"The fashion world, and luxury goods in particular, they've always kind of gone with the status quo," she said. "This idea says 'We're welcoming you into the entryway.'" 

Tiffany's diversity investment is small compared to its workforce of 14,000 and market capitalization of over $16 billion. Still, according to Parker, it's a commendable effort. 

"A lot of success for creatives comes from access and connections," Parker said. "I think sometimes it's not necessarily about quantity, it's about the quality. I think that even really pouring into eight people who then can reach down and pull up more people will have an impact." 

Parker said that Tiffany Atrium is also likely to attract more Black consumers and other consumers of color who appreciate the luxury-jewelry maker supporting Black creatives, HBCU students, and Black professionals. It's a chance for Black people, specifically Black women, to get the recognition they deserve in the fashion world, Mayhew added.  

This idea says 'We're welcoming you into the entryway.'

Despite driving many style trends, from gold hoop earrings to Barbiecore outfits, Black women and women of color are few and far between when it comes to leadership in the fashion world. Women fill 60% of Tiffany and Co.'s leadership roles, according to the company's latest sustainability report, and about 11% of its employees are Black; however, the company doesn't report how many of its leaders are Black or women of color. 

Mary Bellai, the chief human-resources officer at Tiffany & Co., said the brand's goal was to create "a new vision of inclusive luxury," and cited the company's goals for 2025 around diversity, equity, and inclusion, which include a goal to have diversity in its leadership proportionally reflect that of its workforce.   

"We know that the work to create an inclusive workplace is never done and we realize that there is always more progress to be made," Bellai said. "Programs like our Tiffany & Co. apprenticeship place a special focus on hiring women from diverse backgrounds to increase representation in the jewelry-craft space. This is just the start for us." 

Read the original article on Business Insider