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Savage x Fenty's copresident shares what businesses can do right now to improve diversity and inclusion in the workplace and across their products

Published by Business Insider on Wed, 13 Jan 2021

<p><img src="https://static5.businessinsider.com/image/5fd7729a9cf1420018d2f1de-2400/GettyImages-957156996.jpg" border="0" alt="Rihanna Savage X Fenty" data-mce-source="Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Savage X Fenty"></p><p></p><bi-shortcode id="summary-shortcode" data-type="summary-shortcode" class="mceNonEditable" contenteditable="false">Summary List Placement</bi-shortcode><p>For Savage x Fenty, Rihanna's lingerie and beauty brand, diversity and inclusion are in the brand's DNA.</p><p>"There's no other way that our brand could be," Christiane Pendarvis, the company's copresident and chief merchandising and design officer, said during a panel discussion at this year's virtual <a href="https://nrfchapterone.com/speakers/christianependarvis/Christiane-Pendarvis">NRF Chapter One</a> conference this week.</p><p>With a variety of plus-size lingerie options and a vast spectrum of "nude" apparel shades for different skin tones, Savage x Fenty is known for its <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/rihanna-lingerie-savage-fenty-diverse-inclusive-2018-5'r=UK" data-analytics-module="body_link" data-analytics-post-depth="80" data-uri="c7eba958194f460e30a37217963988fd">focus on inclusivity</a>. The company regularly <a href="https://www.insider.com/rihanna-savage-x-fenty-show-versus-victorias-secret-2019-9" data-analytics-module="body_link" data-analytics-post-depth="80" data-uri="cc2404dc9c0219562b541d0a8a710ca4">features a cast of diverse models</a> in its annually streamed fashion show, and was recently <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/the-15-fastest-growing-beauty-brand-dtc-companies-morphe-olay-2020-8" target="_blank" rel="noopener">named</a> one of the 15 fastest-growing online beauty brands during the pandemic, according to data from SimilarWeb, which provides global digital traffic insights about websites and apps.</p><p>Pendarvis outlined steps on Tuesday for different companies to address racism, inclusion, and diversity. While she acknowledged that diversity is a natural cornerstone of Savage x Fenty as a Black-owned beauty and apparel business, she said other brands can do work towards empowering minorities and promoting diversity.</p><p>"The reality is, it is a business problem," Pendarvis said, regarding diversity and inclusion. "And I think you have to tackle it in the same way you tackle any serious business problem."&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Read more: </strong><em><a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/the-15-fastest-growing-beauty-brand-dtc-companies-morphe-olay-2020-8" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Here are the 15 fastest-growing DTC and mainstream beauty brands, according to digital traffic growth</a></em></p><p>To start, Pendarvis recommends that companies look at their data for minority representation across leadership and mid-level roles to understand how this can impact advancement opportunities and employee retention. She explained how important it is to have an "honest conversation" about the company's current position in order to be able to grow.</p><p>To further address issues of racism, Savage x Fenty holds group sessions called "courageous conversations" for employees of color to share personal stories of racism and prejudice. Programs like these, Pendarvis said, "crystallize" what racism looks like to different people and helps bring professionals together to find a solution.</p><p>"I think it's also incumbent upon those of us to share those personal stories, particularly with people that you've worked for, because it brings it home in a real way," she said.</p><p><img src="https://static5.businessinsider.com/image/5ffefa93a8de7700187d392a-1361/savage12.png" border="0" alt="Savage Fenty Fashion Show" data-mce-source="Savage x Fenty Show Vol 2./Amazon Prime"></p><p>On the consumer side, Pendarvis emphasized the importance of fully understanding a brand's role in the marketplace and among consumers. For example, while the beauty industry has historically <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/global/2019/sep/29/funmi-fetto-happy-in-my-skin-beauty-industry-diversity" target="_blank" rel="noopener">struggled</a> with representing diverse skin types and body figures, brands like <a href="https://www.mentedcosmetics.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Mented Cosmetics</a> and <a href="https://www.fentybeauty.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-analytics-module="body_link" data-analytics-post-depth="20" data-ml-dynamic="true" data-ml-dynamic-type="sl" data-orig-url="https://www.fentybeauty.com/" data-ml-id="5" data-ml="true" data-xid="fr1610484977674dfi" data-skimlinks-tracking="xid:fr1610484977674dfi" data-uri="7f155c9942ef2fc7fd1b7a00aaff344f">Fenty Beauty</a> are appealing to a wider consumer base looking for a more diverse array of products.</p><p>"It really turned his head on the cosmetics industry and it shouldn't have taken that long," Pendarvis said about Fenty Beauty launching a line of 40 shades of foundation in 2017. "When you just look at the diversity of customers and women that were buying beauty products, that shouldn't have been as breakthrough as it was. But I think if beauty brands had really been talking to women of color, they would have found that we were wholly unsatisfied with what the options are."</p><p>While listening to the consumer is important from a business perspective, it is also crucial to Savage x Fenty's goal to empower diverse voices. This represents one of the more meaningful elements of Pendarvis' role within the company.</p><p>"For, me, this role with Savage I think has given me an amazing platform to make sure that all customers, all women in particular, are represented in the fashion and beauty world," she said.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>SEE ALSO:&nbsp;<a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/sephora-inclusivity-lesson-viral-incident-sza-2020-2" >Sephora's VP of marketing explains what a viral incident with musician SZA taught the company about inclusivity</a></strong></p><p><a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/savage-x-fentys-copresident-reveals-diversity-inclusion-tips-for-businesses-2021-1#comments">Join the conversation about this story &#187;</a></p> <p>NOW WATCH: <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/worlds-most-expensive-liquid-thoroughbred-horse-semen-2020-3">Why thoroughbred horse semen is the world's most expensive liquid</a></p>
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