When Edward Enninful was appointed Editor in Chief of British Vogue in 2017 the last thing he expected was to be obstructed from walking through the building’s front door.
Yet that is precisely what happened on Wednesday when a doorman to the Conde Nast London office on Hanover Square prevented Enninful from entering and instead directed him to the loading bay and worker’s area.
Security at Conde Nast has always been tight, but it was never racist or so profoundly misguided to not let its own directors access to its premises.
In a social media post, Enninful said Conde Nast “moved quickly” to dismiss the security guard, but “change needs to happen now.” “Just because our timelines and weekends are returning to normal, we cannot let the world return to how it was.”
In a separate post to his one million Instagram followers, he said: “It just goes to show that sometimes it doesn’t matter what you’ve achieved in the course of your life: the first thing that some people will judge you on is the colour of your skin.”
While the security guard may not have been familiar with the masthead of Conde Nast’s publications, there is no question Enninful was racially profiled. According to the BBC the guard was dismissed from the site immediately and placed under investigation by their employer.
Earlier this month Enninful took home the accolades for Editor of The Year and Diversity Initiative of the Year at the Professional Publishers Association (PPA). Upon accepting his awards he said: “It would be disingenuous of me not to point out that I am the first black person to ever win this award - the first black person in 40 years.”
“Diversity is making its way into our commissioning and on to our pages. But what about inside our workplaces? Who are we hiring? Who are we nurturing? Who are we promoting? How do our office environments treat people? Who is allowed to get to the top?”
Calling out culture and calling a spade a spade
It is difficult to make it to the top if you’re not allowed a foot in the door.
Faith Johnson, CEO of Caramel Rock, an educational charity providing training and job opportunities in the fashion and textile sector, said in an interview with the UK Fashion and Textile Association (UKFT) she wished to see more opportunities for black and minority ethnic (BME) representatives to advise on improving representation in the sector.
“Black people, are often marginalised, misrepresented and stereotyped by the world of fashion. The exhibition Get up, Stand up at London’s Somerset House looked at the past 50 years of black creativity, and touched on the representation of black people in fashion (or the lack of it).”
“You have leading business schools who all run scholarships and programmes exclusively for BME candidates in order to encourage more groups to participate and enrol. It’s not just about representing black people positively. It is also about a deeper level of understanding.”
Photo: Courtesy of Conde Nast International and British Vogue