Gucci hires diversity chief after blackface scandal

Company sold racist sweater

By Jordan Valinsky, CNN Business
Scott Barbour/Getty Images

(CNN) - Gucci has hired a new person to oversee its diversity and inclusion efforts following the disastrous publicity it received for selling a racist sweater.

The Italian fashion house announced Tuesday that it has hired Renée Tirado as its new global head of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Tirado will be in charge of designing and implementing a new strategy to "create a more inclusive and equitable workplace and increase workforce diversity," Gucci said in a release.

Tirado's addition to Gucci's executive team is part of its diversity and inclusion plan that it established in February, the same month the company ignited worldwide uproar for selling a sweater that many said resembles blackface because of its design. The top in question was a black turtleneck sweater that pulls up over the bottom half of the face with a cut out and oversized red lips around the mouth.

Gucci apologized, saying in a statement at the time that it's "fully committed to increasing diversity throughout our organization and turning this incident into a powerful learning moment for the Gucci team and beyond." The company subsequently launched a fellowship program to recruit more people of color and hire more directors for inclusion programs, as well as a scholarship program.

Tirado's hiring "is a fundamental building block to further our commitment and support the initiatives already in place," CEO Marco Bizzarri said in a statement Tuesday. "As a learning organization, we have challenged ourselves over the last few months to accelerate our vision to develop a stronger organization."

Tirado will be based in New York and report directly to Bizzarri. She currently holds a similar role for Major League Baseball and had previously worked for insurer AIG and the United States Tennis Association.

"I am honored to join a company that puts these non-negotiable values at the forefront of their business model, not as 'a nice to have' but as a key component of its business strategy," Tirado said in the release.

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