Gucci to step up diversity hiring after ‘blackface’ uproar

NEW YORK — Italian fashion house Gucci announced a major push Friday to step up diversity hiring as part of a long-term plan to build cultural awareness at the luxury fashion company following an uproar over an $890 sweater that resembled blackface.

Gucci also said it will hire a global director for diversity and inclusion, a newly created role that will be based in New York, plus five new designers from around the world for its Rome office.

It also will launch multi-cultural scholarship programs in 10 cities around the world with the goal of building a “more diverse and inclusive workplace on an ongoing basis.”

The announcement came after Gucci CEO Marco Bizzarri met in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood with Dapper Dan, a well-known African-American designer, and other community members to hear their perspectives.

Dapper Dan, who collaborated with Gucci in 2017 on a menswear line, has emerged as a leading voice demanding accountability from Gucci over the sweater, which was black with a pull-up neck featuring a cutout surrounded by cartoonish red lips.

Bizzarri said Gucci has spent the past days conducting a “thorough review of the circumstances that led to this” and consulting with employees and African-American community leaders on what actions the company should take.

“I am particularly grateful to Dapper Dan for the role he has played in bringing community leaders together to offer us their counsel at this time,” Bizzarri said in statement.

Earlier Friday, Dapper Dan tweeted that the participants at the meeting “made great demands” of Gucci. He said he would announce a town hall meeting in Harlem “for us to talk about what they have proposed.”

In May, Gucci said it will begin conducting annual one-day unconscious-bias training sessions for its 18,000 employees around the world.

The design scholarship program will be launched in New York, Kenya’s capital of Nairobi, New Delhi, Beijing, the Chinese city of Hangzhou, Seoul, Tokyo, Beirut, London and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The company described it as a 12-month fast-track program leading to full-time employment.

Gucci has apologized for the sweater, which creative director Alessandro Michele said was not inspired by blackface but by the late Leigh Bowery, a performance artist, club promoter and fashion designer who often used flamboyant face makeup and costumes.

“I look forward to welcoming new perspectives to my team and together working even harder for Gucci to represent a voice for inclusivity,” Michele said in statement Friday.

…read more

Source:: Deseret News – U.S. & World News

      

Amazon dumped New York, but cities still wooing the company

Amazon’s breakup with New York was still fresh when other cities started sending their own valentines to the online giant.

Officials in Newark, New Jersey, one of the 18 finalists that Amazon rejected in November when it announced plans to put its new headquarters in New York and northern Virginia, sent a giant heart that read, “NJ & Newark Still Love U, Amazon!”

Representatives of other jilted suitors, such as Chicago and suburban Maryland, tried to get Amazon’s attention and say they’re still interested in a relationship, too.

The love notes came even though Amazon said it doesn’t plan to pick a new city to replace New York, where the HQ2 project was supposed to produce 25,000 jobs. Instead, the company said it will spread some of those jobs around at other Amazon sites in the U.S. and Canada and expand its existing New York offices.

But why woo a company that says it’s not interested?

For one, the allure of potential jobs is just too much to pass up for many politicians, said Nathan Jensen, a University of Texas government professor who has criticized how economic development incentives are used.

And even if Amazon spurns them, this is a low-risk way for politicians to show they are looking out for their constituents.

“The ‘losing’ cities can continue to publicly talk about everything they are doing for HQ2 even if they know they don’t have a shot. If they know HQ2 isn’t coming, there is no real cost to doing this,” Jensen said.

More than 230 municipalities in North America competed for HQ2, taking part in a months-long bidding war that Amazon eagerly fomented. Cities offered billions in inducements. In New Jersey, state and local governments put $7 billion in incentives on the table as part of the Newark bid.

New York ultimately won the competition by promising nearly $3 billion in tax breaks and grants in addition to access to the nation’s media and financial capital and its educated workforce. But on Valentine’s Day, Amazon abruptly canceled the project after running into fierce opposition to those incentives from lawmakers and political activists on the left.

That shows that the company cared little about getting community input, said Richard Florida, an economic development expert.

“After searching across 200 plus communities and identifying NY (and greater DC) as the places it needed to be, it pulls out as soon as local residents and politicians question the billions in incentives it does not …read more

Source:: Deseret News – U.S. & World News

      

Employee being fired fatally shoots 5 co-workers in Illinois

AURORA, Ill. — A 15-year employee being fired from a manufacturing company opened fire in its suburban Chicago plant Friday, killing five co-workers and wounding five police officers before he was fatally shot, police said.

Aurora, Illinois, Police Chief Kristen Ziman said 45-year-old Gary Martin “was being terminated” before he started shooting at the Henry Pratt Co. — which makes valves for industrial purposes — in the city about 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Chicago.

She told a news conference that in addition to the five employees killed, a sixth worker was taken to a hospital with injuries that were not life threatening. A sixth police officer suffered a knee injury while officers were searching the building.

Ziman said officers arrived within four minutes of receiving reports of the shooting and were fired upon as soon as they entered the 29,000-square-foot manufacturing warehouse.

Police said they did not know the gunman’s motive.

“May God bless the brave law enforcement officers who continue to run toward danger,” Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said at the news conference.

John Probst, an employee at the Henry Pratt Co. in Aurora, told ABC7 that he ran out of the back door as the shooting unfolded Friday afternoon. Probst says he recognized the gunman and that he works for the company.

“What I saw was the guy running down the aisle with a pistol with a laser on it,” Probst said.

Probst said he wasn’t hurt but that another colleague was “bleeding pretty bad.”

“It’s a shame that mass shootings such as this have become commonplace in our country. It’s a shame that a cold and heartless offender would be so selfish as to think he has the right to take an innocent life,” Aurora Mayor Richard C. Irvin said.

At Acorn Woods Condominiums where Martin lived, a mix of brick apartments and condos nestled on a quiet street just a mile and a half from the shooting, neighbors gathered on sidewalks near Martin’s unit talking and wondering among themselves if they knew or had come in contact with him.

Mary McKnight stepped out of her car with a cherry cheesecake purchased for her son’s birthday, to find a flurry of police cars, officers and media trucks.

“This is a strange thing to come home to, right,” she said. She had just learned that the shooter lived close by and his unit in the complex had been taped off by police.

Christy Fonseca often worries about some of …read more

Source:: Deseret News – U.S. & World News