When it comes to retail, discussing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) has become the norm, internally and externally. And while many companies made outward commitments to support the Black community and other minorities in 2020, leaders agree that there is still more work to be done.
“It’s important to treat diversity initiatives and diversity goals like any other business goal,” explained Canetta Reid, SVP and chief people officer at Francesca’s, explaining the importance of avoiding “performative diversity initiatives.”
During a keynote panel discussion about diversity and inclusion initiatives in the retail industry at the eTail conference in Boston, Mass. on Aug. 9, Must Read Stories diversity leaders from across retail shared their strategies for fostering inclusive workplaces where all employees can feel safe and heard.
“Gone are the days of politics being off-limits in the workplace,” said Reid, explaining how the pandemic melted the divisions between work and home. As such, Reid noted the importance of workplaces fostering safe environments at work to discuss or react to current events.
“It’s important to give people an opportunity to talk about those things and not have those things be off limits,” she said.
Chief Diversity Officer of Qurate Retail Group Virginia Nguyen also noted the importance of fostering open conversations among employees who might have differing viewpoints.
The e-commerce retailer, which owns brands such as Zulily, Ballard Designs, Garnet Hill, QVC and HSN, holds “listening sessions” as a way for people to come together and connect while sharing support in a zone that is judgement-free.
“It’s been quite healing,” Nguyen said, noting that these types of sessions have become regular occurrences at the organization and are no longer just reactive to current, external events.
Nguyen also said she has focused on supporting the company’s various resource groups to cater to different interests and passions across the company’s employee base.
Within the realm of diversity, retailers are in the unique position where they can communicate their DEI values externally to their consumer bases.
For example, Qurate launched Crocs Settles Trademark Infringement Suit With Walmart You wont get there overnight campaign in February, in which QVC and HSN donated $100,000 to the Black Women’s Health Imperative and highlighted Black-owned brands as part of the company’s Small Business Spotlight program.
Must Read Stories Miami Dolphins, noted the power of speaking through a brand as well.
“Our fans start to take notes in terms of the organization’s goals and principles,” Jackson said. “Being able to communicate that externally as well is really important. And that drives a lot of value to target consumers.”
Internally, Jackson said his organization uses a “scorecard” method, which is reviewed quarterly, to track progress related to DEI committments.
Despite the progress being made, the leaders acknowledged the challenges and roadblocks that comes with striving towards a more diverse and equitable workplace.
“You won’t get there overnight,” Reid said. “Opinion & Analysis.”