On Monday, WWD began a three-part series that featured a sampling, by no means comprehensive, of key industry players across the fashion, retail and beauty sectors, mass to luxury, to probe how diverse their workforces truly are.
As discussed in that initial article, all companies were sent 16 questions, some purely quantitative: How many/what percentage of employees are people of color, and Black specifically? How many of each work in corporate versus retail? How many hold corporate management positions versus in-store management positions?
Others questions included: How do you define diversity? What diversity and inclusion programs do you have in place? Of what are you most proud? What can you do better?
In every case, WWD requested a comment from the organization’s highest-ranking executive.
“The Numbers” come primarily from the companies, either in survey answers or pulled from web sites. Some companies break down racial demographics quite specifically; others do so more obliquely: “ethnically diverse; non-ethnically diverse.” All breakdowns listed reflect U.S. employment populations only, and only those employees who self-identify, since in Europe, for example, companies are barred by law from breaking down the ethnic makeup of their European employees.
Having started with Burberry Group on Monday and run through Kering, the alphabetical listing today picks up with Kohl’s Corp. The third and final installment of the series will run Wednesday.
Employees worldwide: 122,000
U.S. employees: About 30% people of color
IN THE MIRROR
Kohl’s is taking a measured approach in its response to the police killing of George Floyd and resulting calls for social justice. “Over the past few weeks and in the weeks ahead, we are making space for listening and learning while we identify ways that we can make a sustainable and long-term difference,” said chief people officer Marc Chini. A company spokesperson confirmed that “about 30 percent of our population is Hispanic, Black or Asian.”
Chini said Kohl’s has recently amped up its diversity recruiting efforts. It has expanded Business Resource Groups for associates, and is rolling out unconscious bias training for corporate and store teams. “While we are proud of the progress we have made in recent years, we know we have the opportunity and the responsibility to do more,” he noted.
His words echoed those of chief executive officer Michelle Gass in a video address to employees on June 1. “Through our diversity and inclusion efforts, we are focused on casting a wider net to attract diverse talent, strengthening our pipeline and ultimately contributing to economic empowerment,” she said. Otherwise, Gass articulated broad concepts more than specific actions. “It is our responsibility to acknowledge injustices and commit to the actions and behaviors that will make Kohl’s and the world a better place,” she said.
To that end, “fostering an inclusive environment where people can truly be themselves is foundational for a strong culture,” Chini noted, “and we each own the responsibility to advocate for each other in our actions and behaviors.”
LEVI STRAUSS & CO.
Employees: 15,000-plus worldwide, according to LinkedIn
U.S. employees: 37% white, 28% Latinx, 18% Black/African American, 10% Asian, 5% other minority
Percentage by work type:
Corporate: 55% white, 23% Asian, 10% Latinx, 5% Black/African American, 3% other minority
Retail: 35% Latinx; 31% white; 23% Black/African American, 5% Asian, 5% other minority
Leadership team: 16 members; 2 people of color: Malcolm Goonetileke (Black); Harmit Singh (Indian)
Board: 12 members; 2 people of color: Patricia Salas Pineda (Latinx) and Jenny J. Ming (Asian)
IN THE MIRROR
“Levi Strauss & Co. has never shied away from fighting against racial injustice,” a company spokesperson company said in response to WWD’s survey. He noted a series of actions, from efforts to integrate factories in the South a decade before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to its current advocacy of reducing gun violence, which disproportionately affects Black Americans.
The spokesperson noted that, to live its values internally and externally, Levi Strauss must intensify its commitment to increasing representation of Black people and other people of color within its ranks, starting with “being transparent and open with the racial representation of our workforce and leadership.” The company has in place a Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging function as well as employee resource groups to aid that process. Eighteen percent of the group’s employees and 5 percent of managers are Black.
Chief executive officer Chip Bergh declared those numbers unacceptable in a recent conversation with The Atlantic. “Our house is not in order,” he said. Last year, the company started recruiting from historically Black colleges and universities, and it now compiles diverse candidate slates for all openings.
Among its outward-facing efforts, earlier this month, the company unveiled grants through its Safer Tomorrow Fund to a number of organizations including Cities United, Live Free and the Black and Brown Gun Violence Prevention Consortium.
“This is an all-hands-on-deck moment,” the spokesperson said. “The entire leadership team is committed to making the progress that is necessary, and that will ultimately make our business stronger.”
Employees: 88,000 worldwide
Total workforce: 37% people of color; 9% Black
Corporate: 37% people of color; 7% Black
Executive leadership: 24% people of color; 8% Black
IN THE MIRROR
“We are committed to using our position of leadership to redouble our efforts and contribute to new solutions,” said a company spokesperson.
He forwarded L’Oréal USA’s #PullUpforChange Instagram post from earlier this month, listing the employment figures given here. The beauty group has formed a Diversity and Inclusion Advisory board comprised of employee and outside voices that will develop a companywide anti-racism action plan. This will focus on employee engagement and internal change, community engagement and external change, and companywide education. No specific employment targets have been announced.
Together with its employees across 35 brands, L’Oréal USA has also committed to donating more than $500,000 to organizations including the NAACP, Black Lives Matter, Minnesota Freedom Fund, Color of Change and Know Your Rights Camp, the youth-empowerment organization founded by Colin Kaepernick.
The survey response focused on L’Oréal USA. It did not refer to some recent international news, including that L’Oréal U.K. has enlisted Black transgender model Munroe Bergdorf for its U.K. Diversity and Inclusion Advisory board. Three years ago, the company hired Munroe for a campaign and fired her in short order after she made statements decrying racism following the neo-Nazi rallies in Charlottesville, Va. More recently, L’Oréal revealed the decision to remove from descriptions of skin-evening products all language that implies fair complexions are preferable to darker skin tones — words such as “white/whitening,” “fair/fairness,” “light/lightening.” Such products are marketed primarily in Asia.
“The past weeks have brought to the surface deeply painful experiences for members of the Black community, which include many L’Oréal employees, partners, customers and consumers,” L’Oréal USA said in its June Instagram post unveiling anti-racism initiatives. “We are gathering, talking, connecting and — most importantly — listening. We are committed to holding ourselves accountable and we’ll share our progress in the future.”
LULULEMON ATHLETICA INC.
Employees: Approximately 18,000 worldwide; Approximately 10,000 U.S.
Executive team: 9 members; 1 person of color, Sun Choe (Asian)
Board: 10 members; 0 people of color
IN THE MIRROR
In response to WWD’s survey, Lululemon originally sent a PDF of its June 11 earnings call in which chief executive officer Calvin McDonald decried racism. “Black Lives Matter. Lululemon unequivocally denounces the unacceptable racial violence and oppression that directly impacts the black community,” he said. “We are listening and learning and taking action.”
Turns out, he meant it. Last week, the company revealed a series of commitments which it posted to its web site under the title of “Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Action.”
The document called the Black Lives Matter movement “a powerful catalyst within our organization.” It noted that after conversations with underrepresented employees and the larger Lululemon community, “we heard loud and clear that we need to change behaviors within our own walls to support meaningful, lasting change in the world.” The first step is to hire a head of global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and make significant annual investment “to build consistent momentum.”
The company will facilitate ongoing dialogue between underrepresented groups with McDonald and the senior leadership team. It will establish voluntary employee-led “pacer groups,” starting with formalizing a group of Black employees who have already come together.
By September, all employees will receive anti-racism and anti-discrimination training, while DI&E training for all “people leaders” will commence in July, beginning with senior leadership education.
Regarding hiring and development, by the end of this year, the company will start to report the racial demographics of its employee population based on voluntary self-reporting. Beginning in August, Lululemon will require diverse candidate slates for every role within the company. By January, it will launch a career development program to support diversity across the company, including leadership. By June 2021, it will establish an international internship program in partnership with educational institutions serving underrepresented communities.
The company will also up the funding of its social action program Here to Be by $3 million, for a total of $7 million in 2020. The addition funds will support civil rights and social justice organizations that serve “people experiencing systemic inequity due to identity and ability.” And Lululemon will leverage its brand communications platform, “amplifying diverse voices and galvanizing our community to act.”
That’s not all. The company wants its community of individuals, employees and customers to act as well. “Words have power. Actions have more power,” it posted to Instagram early in June. Under the heading of ‘join us in learning,’” it added suggested reading: “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo and “Biased” by Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt, along with suggested listening, NPR’s “The Code Switch Podcast.”
Employees worldwide: 163,000
U.S. employees: 64% “nonwhite”; 12% Black
Management: 26.2% “nonwhite”
Board: 15 members; 0 people of color
IN THE MIRROR
Deep thoughts and deep pockets are great, but they alone can’t fix every problem. “Racism can’t be solved through a company’s words, good intentions and money alone,” said Chantal Gaemperle, LVMH’s executive vice president, human resources and synergies. “It can only be eradicated by actions and a long-term determination and must be tackled at an individual and structural level.”
While noting the illegality of accumulating race-based employment data in some countries in which it operates, in its survey response LVMH delivered some essential U.S. numbers. Black employees comprise 12 percent of the group’s U.S. employee base, and “nonwhite employees,” 64 percent. Among management positions, 26.2 percent are held by “nonwhite” workers. In the wake of George Floyd’s killing by police and subsequent global demands for social justice, the group is looking inward to examine those numbers and whether LVMH offers true equality of employment opportunity.
Gaemperle called diversity and inclusion “not just a human imperative, [but] a business enabler, because we know that inclusive companies have more engaged employees and are better positioned for success. At LVMH, the diversity and uniqueness of our peoples’ experience is the foundation for the creativity and innovation on which our success is built.”
She noted that D&I is now an integral part of the group’s h.r. philosophy, reflected across all hiring and promotion plans. LVMH instituted diversity initiatives more than 10 years ago, with its most impressive success in the area of gender and sexual orientation. Now the company is intensifying its efforts toward racial diversity. One step toward that goal: identifying Black job candidates through working with the National Black MBA Association and the Thurgood Marshall Foundation.
“We know we have more work to do to increase our numbers of Black employees at all levels,” the group’s response statement said, while noting the symbiotic strengths of a diverse workforce: “to further fuel the creativity that is the lifeblood of our brands and to provide opportunities for a wide array of people who reflect the broad diversity of our global customer base.”
LVMH hired its first head of diversity and inclusion in 2019, and is in the process of bringing on regional D&I leaders. The ultimate goal is to make the group “an inclusive and desirable place to work for all employees regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or any other background, which in turn enables us to use the power of our people and our brands to effect change.”
Along with recruitment of diverse talent, a key priority is strengthening advancement channels for Black employees, up through key leadership positions.
Externally, LVMH and its brands partner with various Black business student associations. Case in point: Last year, Hennessy’s Fellows program committed $10 million over the next 10 years to sponsor Thurgood Marshall College Fund scholarships for graduate students from historically Black colleges and universities. LVMH and various of its brands have donated to the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund as well as the Black Retail Action Group.
Gaemperle noted that action, such as that noted above, is imperative, and that it must take root in basic decent behavior. “Treating all people with respect,” she said, “and making sure everyone feels safe to be themselves.”
Employees worldwide: Approximately 125,000
People of Color/Black: 60% ethnically diverse; 40% nonethnically diverse
Senior director and above: 78% nonethnically diverse; 22% ethnically diverse
Board: 33% ethnically diverse
IN THE MIRROR
“We are proud of the fact that we put a stake in the ground and developed actionable goals and metrics to which we hold ourselves accountable,” Macy’s said in its survey response.
Calling the retailer “America’s department store,” the response noted, “we leverage the unique perspective of all our colleagues to understand and fulfill the needs of our customers and the communities we serve.”
In 2018, Macy’s laid out plans to increase diversity at all levels of the organization. This initiative focuses on tangible goals in five areas — Colleagues, Customers, Community, Suppliers and Marketing. The goals were set and will be managed through the Diversity and Inclusion Business Council, co-chaired by Macy’s chairman and ceo Jeff Gennette and chief diversity officer Shawn Outler. “The goals we have published are concrete. However, we are in the process of reviewing them now in light of our commitment to accelerate equality in the workplace,” the company offered.
In terms of representation in-house, Macy’s has committed to achieving 30 percent ethnic diversity at the senior director and above by 2025, up from the current 22 percent. The company provides unconscious bias training to all employees
And it has launched MOSAIC, “a leadership program designed to accelerate the momentum of top-talent multicultural manager and director-level colleagues.” Another goal: to increase representation and advance the growth of under-represented suppliers by upping its combined retail and nonretail spend above 5 percent by 2025. Marketing-wise, the company has a mandate for this year to require 50 percent representation across various diverse groups in all of its messaging.
As it works towards its concrete goals, the statement said Macy’s will “simply move faster and remain laser focused on diversity, inclusion and equity.”
Employees worldwide: 76,700
U.S. employees: 42.6% white, 21.6% Black or African American, 19.1% Hispanic/Latino, 9% Asian, 5.5% two or more races, 0.7% native Hawaiian or other Pacific islander, 0.4% American Indian or Alaskan native, 1.1% unknown
Director-level and above: 72.7% white, 10.9% Asian, 5.2% Hispanic/Latino, 4.8% Black or African American, 3.3% two or more races, 0.2% native Hawaiian or other Pacific islander, 0.2% American Indian or Alaskan native, 2.7% unknown
Vice presidents: 77.1% white; 9.9% Black or African American; 5.2% Asian; 3.2% Hispanic/Latino; two or more races 2.9%; unknown 1.7%
IN THE MIRROR
In the wake of the national protests that erupted after the killing of Floyd and others, and subsequent dialogue about systemic racial issues in the U.S., Nike was among the first companies to declare Juneteenth a companywide holiday — a real one, stores and distribution centers closed, a holiday for all.
Nike has made diversity of representation a major priority. “Our approach to employee and business growth is fueled by the belief that diversity — in all its forms — unlocks innovation,” the company’s fiscal year 2019 report says. “We know that leveraging different perspectives, experiences and backgrounds generates unique ideas. To enable this, it’s imperative that we continue to build a creative and inclusive culture, where all voices are welcomed and heard.”
Nike focuses on three main areas: Empowering Diverse Teams, Fostering an Inclusive Culture and Supporting Diverse Communities. A primary goal for 2019 was to build diversity at the most senior levels. Last year, the company increased hiring among U.S. underrepresented groups at the vice president level by two percentage points, bringing the total to 21 percent. The company also undertook efforts to increase diversity at the level of manager and above, while supporting the career-development of those employees starting out in their careers.
Later this year, Nike will release representation targets for 2025. In the meantime, its target for 2020 is to “attract and develop an increasingly diverse, engaged and healthy workforce.” To do so, Nike will take action in three ways: “Provide visibility to our diversity and inclusion progress; provide comprehensive, competitive, and equitable pay and benefits; invest in our employees through growth and development and wellbeing initiatives.”
The company is committed to increasing diverse representation at all levels, including governance. Since 2018, it has elected three board members from underrepresented groups, or URGs: Peter B. Henry, dean emeritus of New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business and William R. Berkley Professor of Economics and Finance; John W. Rogers Jr., chairman, ceo and chief information officer of Ariel Investments, and Thasunda B. Duckett, ceo of Chase Consumer Banking at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and executive sponsor of JPMorgan Chase’s Advancing Black Pathways Program. The executive leadership team also includes several Black members, including Melanie Harris, vice president of Strategy and Operations; Craig Williams, president of Jordan Brand, and Scott Uzell, ceo and president of Converse.
Nike partners with the Executive Leadership Council, Management Leadership for Tomorrow, the NBSE, National Black MBA Associate, Code2040 and other organizations with the goal of “[sharpening] our focus and hiring more Black leaders across all levels at the company, creating a strong brand with this community and driving strong hiring results year over year.”
Last year, the company launched unconscious bias training. It also runs several development and growth programs, including XCelerate, a six-month leadership course for senior director-level employees that has maintained 30 percent representation of URG, and Amplify, a development program in collaboration with the Center for Creative Leadership targeted at women and URGs at the manager and director levels. NikeUnited employee networks, sponsored by the Global Diversity and Inclusion Team, “offer resources to a diverse spectrum of individuals across the company…[and] advance the development of their members, promote cultural awareness and help strengthen our commitment to diversity and inclusion.”
In terms of philanthropy, Nike is known to reach far into its deep pockets, and many of its charitable initiatives benefit underrepresented communities.
As the company works towards specific targets, it pledges that all issues involved in diversity and inclusion will remain a top priority. “We’ve made good progress, but we know there is more work to do,” the company said. “We will continue to increase representation and strengthen our culture of belonging.”
Overall: 44% white; 22% Hispanic or Latino; 18% Black or African American; 12% Asian/Pacific Islander; 4% other
Front-line managers: 56% white; 20% Hispanic or Latino; 13% Black or African American; 8% Asian/Pacific Islander; 3% other
Midlevel managers: 73% white; 13% Asian/Pacific Islander; 7% Hispanic or Latino; 4% Black or African American; 3% other
Board: 11 members; 3 Black members: Shellye L. Archambeau, Stacy Brown-Philpot, Glenda G. McNeal
IN THE MIRROR
Nordstrom provided a very detailed and nuanced response. Like many other companies, the retailer was swift in issuing a statement in the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing and the ensuing international protests. In an open letter to Nordstrom’s employees, ceo Erik Nordstrom and president Pete Nordstrom cited not only Floyd, but “Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and too many others,” and said their deaths cannot be ignored. “We owe it to our employees, our customers and our communities to be very clear in condemning these acts of violence. They represent a disregard for basic human rights that has no place in our communities or country, and certainly not at Nordstrom.…Our values are centered on the notion of creating a place where every customer and employee is welcome, respected, appreciated and able to be themselves.”
Though that letter, as well as contributions to the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and the Black Lives Matter Foundation, came in response to recent events, it didn’t initiate Nordstrom’s commitment to equality philanthropy, or to workplace diversity and inclusion. To the former point, its annual giving program often intersects with charities focused on marginalized communities, including Rainier Scholars and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.
Internally, Nordstrom had previously defined its commitment to diversity, inclusion and belonging [DIB] around four strategic pillars: Talent, Culture, Market Place and Leadership. The company makes its diversity statistics public via its annual corporate and social responsibility report released on NordstromCares.com. “[The] numbers aren’t where we want them to be,” a spokesperson said, “and we have a goal to increase the diversity of our teams to reflect the diversity we see across North America.”
Initiatives in place range from reviews of processes for recruiting, hiring, onboarding and promoting employees to training managers to “minimize the impact bias has on promotion and pay decisions,” the spokesperson said. “We’re proud to say we have achieved 100 percent pay equity for all employees across genders and races. Nordstrom is also committed to pay parity.”
Nordstrom strives to give employees a strong voice within the company’s DIB initiatives. Beginning in 2018, Employee Resource Groups were formed to “bring together, educate and amplify the experiences of our employee groups and their allies.” And recently, the in-house Black Employee Network convened a “Courageous Conversation,” inviting employees to “virtually share their stories and experiences, discussing what it means to be Black in our world today.” In the wake of recent Black Lives Matter protests, Nordstrom hosted 12 additional Courageous Conversations with over 8,500 participants.
Commitment to DIB extends beyond the retailer’s own employees. For several years, the company has had a Supplier Diversity program that connects with “diverse-owned businesses,” including those in the Black community. Guidelines for better partnering with those businesses will be shared soon.
Part of the Nordstrom DIB drive centers on community, both in-house and among its customers, something the company focuses on with inclusive marketing campaigns. In 2019, 58 percent of Nordstrom’s castings were racially diverse and/or size-inclusive.
“Where we are today isn’t enough,” the spokesperson said. “We can and must do more. We’re on a journey to be better and are committed to continuing this conversation, making more changes and sharing the ways we are working to drive meaningful progress at Nordstrom. We’re committed to being transparent about that work.”