If we say that we need to innovate to transform our economy, whether the transformation is digital, environmental or systemic, it must, in my opinion, go through human changes. When I say human change, I mean radical changes where the women and men who lead and make the decisions are different from the ones we used to see in representations to bring new ones perspectives.
For that, it is absolutely not a question of complaining of what must evolve but which is difficult to transform. Rather, it’s about seeing it as an opportunity to innovate and create alternatives and concretely implement actions to bring new solutions and action.
In this period of Fashion Week Man & Haute Couture, if we took as an example the fashion industry?
If I look at the different leaders who are at the head of the most important companies and institutions of the sector in France: The 2 luxury groups leaders French with the head of each: men either Bernard Arnault (LVMH) and François Henri Pinault (KERING ). At the head of Institut Français de la Mode? A man: Xavier Romatet who has just been elected a few months after leaving Condenast. At the head of the Fédération du Prêt-à-Porter féminin ? A man who has just been re – elected: Pierre – François LeLouët. At the head of the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode ? A man, Ralph Toledano and Pascal Morand as executive chairman. At the head of DNA x IFM / IFM Entrepreneurs? A man: Franck Delpal.
No woman, then. OK, why not.
Yet, economically speaking, french women’s fashion in 2018 is 12.4 billion euros, of which 3.3 billion is exported. So women ARE real locomotives for the industry. They are preferred as clients, or rather more operational and strategic roles. Rarely as high-level decision makers unfortunately.
Some leaders who want to be there for the next 50, 100, 200 years include these cultural and systemic shifts, and initiate changes that must remain bankable, certainly, but that lead the way (I hope). This is the case of Bernard Arnault who surrounds himself with the best and who just recently for example to invest in FENTY, alongside Rihanna and we can say that more diversity in this case brings creativity and has an impact economic certain since the first collaboration was made on the brand Fenty Beauty whose baseline is none other than “Beauty For All” and is the first brand to offer 40 shades inclusive in 2017. Fenty Beauty is “500 million euros of sales generated, in a full year of existence “according to LVMH (I speak in more detail HERE).
What if innovation started simply by creating different ecosystems? If you do not want to get caught in a system, why not create yours?
With your values? Your vision? After all, there is room for everyone and what we all look at are the results, right?
As I often say “do not be afraid to be against the flow” (or rather, in YOUR flow). And sometimes it puts you a little ahead of time. It is necessary to surround yourself and to find the resources (human and financial) to put you vision in work, it is above al, the most important.
Rather than doing what others do but doing it better, we must do what we are good at, develop where we have talent, create alternatives that will bring other opportunities and answer clear problems. For my part, for example, I took my case: I am a black woman who did not always find the content or resources she needed to develop some of her projects. I told myself that I was certainly not the only one but that I had certain strings to my bow that could help others (women or women with an immigrant background). Because we necessarily share things that make us understand each other. Then, I identify their talents and help them develop them while seeking to develop the best possible infrastructure, agile with access to a network of partners to enable them to develop.
Your number 1 mission is to identify your talent, your mission, what you are on this planet and gather the financial and human resources to execute it, and especially sometimes, it does not look like what already exists but it works still! Trust yourself. In the digital age, despite what we can think is still under exploited, the field of possibilities is just unlimited.
The definition of the word innovation is the introduction of new things. If I allow more women, people of immigrant background or women over 40 to become leaders and entrepreneurs in creation, I introduce innovation because it is often a minority or almost nonexistent in some industries. Even those in which we have a huge economic weight as the fashion industry, especially in France.
Being an optimist, what I observe and that makes me very happy is that the solutions to the challenges that the industry of fashion and beauty for example, come from women. You have several successful fashion brands that are headed by a woman, from Yael Afflalo with the brand Reformation to Sarina Lavagne d’ Ortigue with Prescription Lab, or Justine Hutteau the founder of Respire. There are still many others.
In the 3 cases above, it is products of our daily life: clothes, care and cosmetics, a deodorant, but these 3 women have seen around them a lack, a challenge or even found themselves doing to a problem of health and wished to create a solution, an alternative that answers to a problem which exceeds them like the environmental damage caused by the textile pollution due to over-production among others, the desire to bring to the women care who reveal them rather than conceal or complex them. Alternatives that do not put our health at risk.
People are fascinated by innovation, sometimes as if it’s something superhuman. It’s quite simple in fact because our company is in full transformation and the challenges are numerous. All you have to do is take an unresolved or partially resolved challenge and introduce a new solution to change the game.
Look around you, the world you live in and ask yourself if something is bothering you, bothers you. Either you choose to live with it, or you decide to create a solution to change it. So, what did you see? How much does it bother you? I read on Lisa Nichols‘ feed that the worst thing a person can do is to have a talent, to know it and live as if he did not have it, because it’s theft.
So why, in my opinion, diversity, diversity and ageism must be the pillars of leadership to innovate?
This article is for those in the business who currently have pressure on their shoulders and have the power to move the lines. I am thinking, for example, of the HR I meet regularly and their challenges in recruiting and implementing appropriate training. To those who accompany change (I think there managers), or those who have the power to invest in projects (I think the funds, banks and family offices) made radically different because hiring clones (same studies and even culture) or invest always in the same founders (white men having a business school) will not make you innovate in terms of solution because there is a form of reproduction of the social schema. It’s not just men, mostly white over 45 who can be leaders. Like startups, it’s not just the founders between 20 and 35 who can be “bankable” or are worth taking risks on them.
Indeed, the challenges on recruitment issues sometimes come from the frame and the lack of representation that make recruits want a box in the image of “society” with a cultural diversity so that the company like society becomes a nourishing source of learning and makes you want to get up every morning rather than doing a brown-out.
once again, I come back to Bernard Arnault and his last 2 partnerships and recruitments over the last 3 years (I’m thinking here of Virgil Abloh and Rihanna and not Guillaume Henry, although I know it’s the most recent): if we look at the facts (knowing that Bernard Arnault is a visionary who loves creativity and has always had flair and knows his time), he understood that the Artistic Directors of today and tomorrow must be catalysts of experience and federators of communities.
How to reach a community that you do not necessarily touch? In the context of brand development, look for a person who speaks the same language as the community in question to have a group of brands that can touch different horizons and converse online and offline with different cultures. The more the person is singular but touches many communities and the better. It remains to bring down this miscegenation in a stronger way within the group, representation and multiculturalism to be at all levels.
If changes are to be initiated, innovations will occur, it must begin with human changes and not just facade but done in depth.
If we persist in wanting to develop a culture of cloning, not to take the risk of opening up to people with different backgrounds, profiles, genres and cultural backgrounds, there will be no innovation, unless we do not want things to change.