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NRF 2023: Why Macy’s is Building Diversity and Equity to Empower Everyone, from Store Associates to Executives

Diversity has become a key part of any retailer’s strategy, and Macy’s is driving its success in this area by looking at the company as a sports team playing in a major stadium. CEO Jeff Gennette described the strategy in terms of putting together a competitive squad — complete with every role filled and each player receiving the support they need from the rest of the team to utilize their specific talents to the fullest.

The diversity of the team that is on the playing field defines the strategy of where the company is going, and they are the ones executing the plays,” said Gennette during his keynote session at NRF 2023. “I would tell you that equity is how everyone on the playing field has what they need to contribute, whatever those needs are. If it’s mentorship, if it’s sponsorship, if it it’s training, those are all things that we’re focused on.”

While many of its initiatives are by their nature ongoing, there is good news to report: Macy’s already has achieved some of its commitments. The retailer set a requirement of 50% representation of gender/gender identity, ethnicity, age, size and differently abled subjects in its advertising by 2020, and achieved a diverse supplier spend of at least 5% by 2021.

Macy’s uses a range of programs to move toward creating a truly diverse team, in both senses of the word. One of the key ways is through the MOSAIC program, which was designed to help the company achieve 30% ethnic diversity at the senior director level and above by 2025. The strategy, which launched in 2019, puts an emphasis on strengthening leadership skills for managers and directors of Black/African-American, Hispanic-Latinx, Native American and Asian descent.

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However, Macy’s isn’t solely focused on improving prospects for its higher-level employees. The retailer also offers the Guild education program, which covers 100% of tuition, books and fees for select programs at more than 20 schools and universities, potentially helping associates further their career beyond the frontline. Guild has programs available for programs from foundational learning to bootcamps to earning a college degree — including opportunities for non-native English speakers.

“A lot of our colleagues have studied English as a second language — that would be one of the programs — and there are hundreds learning about how to be a data scientist and going that route,” said Gennette. “[Guild] has been a popular program.”

The retailer also offers opportunities for entrepreneurs outside its business through S.P.U.R. Pathways. S.P.U.R. (which stands for Shared Purpose, Unlimited Reach) is a multiyear program designed to advance entrepreneurial growth, close wealth gaps and shatter barriers faced by diverse-owned and underrepresented businesses. Macy’s and Momentus Capital provide these businesses with both favorable lending options and business advisory resources to help them achieve their full potential.

While each program targets a different aspect of the business, they ultimately all come together to strengthen Macy’s as a whole. Employees, from associates to executives, can tell when a company has truly committed to diversity and equity as opposed to just paying lip service, and Macy’s is committed to ensuring all voices are heard no matter who or where they come from.

“[Macy’s] is a brand that people want to be affiliated with, so that’s been good for us,” said Gennette. “And we spend a lot of time to ensure that the culture that they’re entering is the one where they can uniquely contribute to its success and its execution. We make sure that we have that comfort level and all the signals that embolden people to be their authentic self. It is important.”

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