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Taking Action on Racial Equity
At Ralph Lauren, we are always looking to listen, learn, and deepen our work to create environments that reflect the values that define our brand—values like authenticity, dignity, and respect for one another. We want everyone to experience these values consistently. We have made commitments to deeply examine bias—including looking critically at the structures and practices inside our company, how we use our voice as a leader in our industry, and the role we play in portraying the American dream. As a part of this, along with our standing pledge to be Open to All and the racial equity commitments outlined in our June 2020 and May 2021 open letters from Ralph Lauren and Patrice Louvet, we have built on the structures and forums that enable us to take action thoughtfully and sustainably. Evolving the long-standing Employee Groups we’ve had since 2003, in June 2020 we set up additional internal safe spaces for dialogue about race to break down barriers and foster understanding through sharing personal experiences. In addition, we have created dedicated Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Advisory Councils, empowered to directly advise our Executive Leadership Team, and D&I Working Groups, which are segmented into specialised workstreams to deliver equitable practices across every function, level, working environment, and region across our company. With this important structure at the center, we are progressing toward our company-wide commitments, including:
Elevate Talent Into Leadership Ranks
For every open role at the Vice President level or above, we will interview at least one Black candidate as well as at least one candidate from other underrepresented groups. In addition, we have committed to ensuring that our Global Leadership Team is at least 10% Black, African, or African American and at least 20% people of colour by 2023.
Compensation and Benefits Equity
Our retail and distribution and fulfillment center populations are the most racially and ethnically diverse areas of our company. At the beginning of this year, we rolled out expanded medical benefits for our US part-time employee population. Looking ahead, we are committed to reviewing all internal policies on a continual basis to ensure equity for our Black, African, and African American employees and employees of colour.
Create Space for Our Amplification of Diverse Voices and Perspectives
We expanded both our D&I Employee Advisory Groups and RL Communities, including establishing the Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander (API) Advisory Council; the Black Advisory Council (BAC); the Hispanic, Latino, and Latinx Advisory Council; the Native American Advisory Council in North America; and the Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic (BAME) group in EMEA. Each group plays a central role in helping to ensure that our company’s progress is rooted in the real experiences of our diverse employees. They work in partnership with our global D&I teams to help advocate for and promote the authentic implementation of systemic change to ensure personal wellness and professional equity. We have also established monthly employee roundtable forums to encourage education and empathy, further build community, and empower our teams to mobilise action for meaningful impact. In addition, to be able to understand the unique needs and priorities of our people, we have enhanced our employee surveys with a more robust focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Strengthen Structured Education Practices
We have built on the formal unconscious bias and microaggression training we started in 2018. Part two of our mandatory D&I training—Respect and Inclusion: Allyship and Advocacy—was completed by all managers in July 2020 and our entire employee population in December 2020. Going forward, completion of this training is required for all new hires, company-wide. We have substantially expanded our D&I educational and engagement programming across all heritage months and days. Leaning into the importance of representation and dialogue, we launched a Black Speaker Series, inviting external thought leaders and public figures to share their wisdom and personal and professional experiences with our employees. We have also developed comprehensive resource libraries for allyship and education that are always available to employees in their daily roles.
Examine How We Portray the American Dream and Use Our Brand Voice
With our Advisory Councils and Employee Groups, and as perhaps our greatest responsibility, we are closely reexamining our brand’s unique role in portraying the American dream—from the concepts we ideate to the tangible products we create to the imagery we promote. We’re focused on diversifying our brand storytelling, committing to represent Black talent in at least 20% of our brand marketing and advertising on owned digital channels in aggregate during the calendar year.
Forging New Creative Partnerships
We will also be investing in Black, African, and African American creative partners—including the content creators in front of and behind the camera as well as Black-owned media platforms, all of which are vital in bringing our vision to life.
Hold Our Network Accountable
In July 2020, we reviewed our media partners to ensure the platforms we conduct business through operate in a way that aligns to our values and D&I standards. We also developed a set of diversity expectations for all partners.
Connect With Consumers
Detailed analyses of our Black, African, and African American consumer composition and their perceptions and expectations of our brand are taking place to inform our cross-functional business strategies. In an effort to spark dialogue among our teams, we created a tangible, evergreen symbol of allyship and solidarity with the Black, African, and African American communities. Conceived and designed by our employees, for our employees, the Ralph Lauren Pin of Solidarity is intended as a gateway for meaningful conversation and understanding. It will be available to our customers soon.
Support Nonprofit Organisations
We’re strengthening our employee volunteering efforts with organisations that support Black, African, and African American communities and communities of colour. More broadly, via our internal Matching Gift program, our employees’ donations to the causes and nonprofits they care about are eligible to be matched by the Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation.
Advance Social Justice
We designated four CEO Action for Racial Equity fellows—delegates from our company who are temporarily stepping away from their roles to create large-scale impact for racial equity and justice by advancing public policy reform at the US local, state, and federal levels, full-time. These employees are working in concert with representatives from more than 100 companies in the CEO Action network to mobilise election, health care, technology access, and public safety reform. In the areas around our largest American facilities—New Jersey, New York, and North Carolina—we started opening dialogues with public works bureaus, nonprofits, district attorney offices, school districts, and police and sheriff departments. Those conversations turned into opportunities for sharing our diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism trainings and resources.
Deepen Our Partnerships and Invest in Education
We have deepened our relationships with existing partners like The Access Project, Phi Beta Sigma, and UNCF. Additionally, we donated more than $100,000 in scholarship funds to academic programs supporting students of colour, and we are developing mentorship and talent pipelines with HBCUs and historically Black sororities and fraternities. Through our involvement in the Open To All campaign, we are open-sourcing our D&I training materials to public safety agencies, schools, and businesses. And in the areas around our largest American facilities—New Jersey, New York, and North Carolina—we are developing relationships with and conducting diversity, equity, and inclusion trainings for public works bureaus, nonprofits, district attorney offices, school districts, and police and sheriff departments. We are also exploring ways to increase our support for Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander communities, including but not limited to our existing relationship with Asian Americans for Equality, Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholars, and the Asian University for Women in Bangladesh. Our work is far from being complete, and we approach all of this with intentionality and humility. We are on a journey and do not claim to have the perfect playbook or all of the right answers. But we will continue to accelerate our pace of progress, and we will take action today, tomorrow, and into a better future.
This page was last updated on May 26, 2021, and will continue to be updated as we progress on our work.
Letter of Commitment
(Shared with Employees on June 10, 2020)
Dear Team, At Ralph Lauren, we have always felt that part of our purpose is to inspire dreams. This idea is core to who we are as a Company and the values we have embraced for more than 50 years. But you cannot dream without hope. And racial injustice and inequality are the enemies of hope. The senseless and unjust deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery—and the many who have come before them—have profoundly highlighted the systemic racism and racial injustice that is woven into American society. This is an American problem. It is a global problem. It is a fashion problem. It is our problem. This is ours to face and ours to fix. The reckoning the United States is facing has also made clear to us that the current reality for our Black and African American colleagues does not fully align with our values and what we stand for. So now is the time for us to look inward, expand on the work we have done, and take real, meaningful action to ensure our values are truly reflected in every person’s individual experience at our Company and with our brands. The realities we are now confronting have not manifested themselves only in the last month. What has changed, however, is the rightful urgency of the voices demanding that we finally face these truths. We heard these voices inside our own Company when more than 3,000 of you joined our Conversations of Understanding and roundtables last week. The dialogue was honest and often painful, and whether you bravely shared or intently listened, we want to thank each and every one of you for participating. These conversations will continue because we believe in the transformative power of dialogue. But we recognize that, while dialogue is a much-needed first step, it is not enough. We will also look critically at the structures and practices inside our Company, how we use our voice as a leader in our industry, and the role we play in portraying American culture. To start this process of meaningful change, we are expanding our existing multicultural D&I group, “Mosaic,” established last year, by creating an Advisory Group with a focus on amplifying Black and African American voices inside our Company. This group will be at the table as our additional initiatives are put into action—empowered to directly advise our Executive Leadership Team as we build a culture that reflects our values for everyone. We are also committing to the following early steps, which build on our existing programs. While each of these represents a firm commitment, they are just a starting point for our efforts. Our Advisory Group, as well as our D&I Teams and Communities, will help to inform and evolve our approach.
Inside our Company, we are committing to taking the following actions:
We will provide unconscious bias and microaggression training, building on the program we started in 2018. Training has begun to roll out and will be completed by all managers by the end of July and our entire employee population by October. Going forward, the training will be required for all new hires. It introduces important concepts, like how to have a constructive dialogue about bias and how leaders can elevate and amplify diverse voices on their teams.
We will continue to disclose the racial and ethnic makeup of our employee base. We commit to elevating more Black and African American talent into our leadership ranks. For every open role at the Vice President level or above, we will interview at least one Black or African American candidate as well as at least one candidate from other underrepresented groups. We will also ensure that Black or African American colleagues as well as other people of colour on our teams are part of our career development and mentorship programs. Our goal is to reflect the communities we serve—in our leadership and across the entire Company.
We will continue to create safe spaces for dialogue that can break down barriers and build community inside the Company by formalizing our Conversations of Understanding and roundtables.
We want to build a future in which the world of fashion is as diverse as our customer base. Externally, we will take the following actions:
Use Our Brand Voice.
We will examine how we portray the American Dream—in the stories we tell, the creators we champion, the faces we elevate, the families we hero, and the media partners we support.
We will invest in areas like recruitment and mentorship with outside partners, nonprofits, and academic institutions—including our existing partner, the United Negro College Fund, as well as Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Hold Our Network Accountable.
We will build a set of diversity expectations for our partners and vendors, as we have already begun to do in the area of sustainability.
Support Our Communities.
We will build on our commitment to giving and volunteering by empowering our teams to identify opportunities in the communities where they, and our customers, work and live.
To our Black and African American colleagues and people of colour in our Company—we hear you, we stand with you, and we commit to do better by you. We will build on the foundations we have in place and actively deepen our work, while holding onto the values that should be universally felt by anyone who interacts with our Company or our brands—values like authenticity, dignity, and respect for one another. We will accelerate our pace of progress, and we will take action today, tomorrow, and into a better future.
An Update on Our Commitments: An Open Letter
(Shared with Employees on May 26, 2021)
Dear Team, Yesterday, we paused operations throughout our business and joined together to honor George Floyd’s life and memory—and the countless others who have died at the hands of police brutality and institutionalised racism. It was a day of reflection and reverence, but also one of continued mourning. Despite the momentary relief we may feel from the verdict in the trial of Mr. Floyd’s murder, we know this is not justice. No amount of relief can outweigh the grief of his loved ones and the pain from so many cases that have yet to see accountability. Though it is our hope that this verdict can serve as a turning point in American history, we know a lot of work lies ahead. At this time last year, our company joined our nation and the world in a long-overdue reckoning with racism. We examined the ingrained biases, the apathy that accompanies privilege, and the systems that were built to suppress people of colour—particularly for our Black, African, and African American colleagues and communities. Our promise to you then was to confront this reality by listening, learning, and taking action. We’re still committed to each of those promises, and we don’t intend to stop. Our early actions were anchored in creating teams and forums that set us up to deliver thoughtful progress and to uphold meaningful accountability. Our intention was to invest time in building the infrastructure required to sustain our focus over the long term. An important step in this process was forming our Black Advisory Council in the Americas and our Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic (BAME) Council in EMEA, building on our existing D&I Community Groups. They are empowered to directly advise our Executive Leadership Team. These two councils, in partnership with our D&I Team and guided by our Global D&I Steering Committee, have established 11 specialised Working Groups intended to guide our company’s actions to eliminate racial disparities and elevate the voices and perspectives of Black and underrepresented employees. Their collective efforts produced a blueprint for delivering on the commitments we made last year, and have inspired us to create new goals, take on further work, and look to create a better future. While there is a lot more to be done, we are making meaningful early progress, which you can learn more about on our solidarity page, where we will continue to share updates as our work continues. The next chapter for our company won’t be defined by any single product or brand campaign we create—it will be defined by what we stand for. As a beacon for American culture and values in the world, racial equity must be at the very heart of who we are and how we live our purpose. With integrity as our compass, we promise to continue to listen, learn, and take action into a better tomorrow.