Oiselle: How Does an Activist Brand Authentically Commit to Advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion?

by: Lindsey Gallo, Marisa Weidner, Jane Xie

Publication Date: July 14, 2021
Length: 20 pages
Product ID#: 7-445-121

Core Disciplines: Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, Ethics, Leadership/Organizational Behavior, Social Impact, Strategy & Management

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Second Place Winner; DEI Global Case Writing Competition.
This case examines a small, high-growth women’s athletic apparel company’s activities to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and impact the apparel industry, while ensuring its internal organization and operations are aligned with its political and social stances. Founded as a “for women by women’’ company, Oiselle (pronounced wa-zell) has a brand mission focused on women’s empowerment. Its leaders support sociopolitical causes such as Planned Parenthood and Black Voters Matter.

In the athletic retail industry, critics have found misalignment between companies’ external branding and internal leadership. For example, Nike and Adidas marketing campaigns have championed female athletes and called for increased representation of women in sports, yet their own executive teams and board members are primarily men. Oiselle is led by women, who are increasingly elevating diversity in their branding, including highlighting gender, race, and LGBTQ+ disparities in the industry.

The case presents background information on Oiselle and an overview of the business case for DEI. The case then asks students to wrestle with fundamental questions like the role of business in advancing DEI and how companies can incorporate DEI in a manner consistent with their business model.

Teaching Objectives

After reading and discussing the material, students should:

  • Understand the business case for DEI and evaluate if and to what extent companies should engage in conversations and activities related to DEI.
  • Evaluate the role of business in advancing DEI at different levels (i.e., within the company, across customers and suppliers, and across society as a whole).
  • Assess how a company can incorporate DEI into its brand strategy in a manner consistent with its current business model.
  • Identify specific metrics by which companies can measure DEI performance.