Models on a catwalk. Shutterstock.

A segregated fashion industry has pushed workers to go freelance to avoid discrimination in the workplace, according to a research paper published by industry advocacy group Fashion Roundtable in partnership with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Fashion and Textiles.

Sixty-eight percent of research participants said they had experienced or witnessed discrimination within the industry, while 83 percent agreed that the government should be playing a role in progressing diversity and inclusion within fashion, according to the report, which was compiled using written evidence, surveys and a series of interviews across 337 industry stakeholders.

While focused on the UK market, the report’s findings highlight challenges faced by the industry at large. The resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement last year reignited a broader conversation about discrimination practices within the fashion system globally. While many companies pledged to do better, tangible progress on the issue is mixed.

Through research and lobbying, Fashion Roundtable aims to push the interests of the fashion industry higher up the UK government policy agenda. The paper laid out four recommendations to the government on progressing representation and inclusion in fashion, including recruiting a senior civil servant to lead British government policy on the fashion industry and reviewing the industry’s practice of unpaid internships.

It also laid out 10 actions for leaders across fashion’s business, creative and education sectors, including publicly reporting diversity and wages data and establishing scholarships, apprenticeships and grants to help marginalised groups progress within fashion workplaces at all levels.

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