Macy’s elevates diversity goals

Photo: RetailWire
Sep 16, 2019

Macy’s Inc. announced an extensive initiative to drive diversity and inclusion across its ranks, concerning not only employees but consumers and other external stakeholders.

The program seeks to “further ensure the company reflects the diversity of the customers and communities it serves” and includes five steps:

  1. “Strengthen our commitment to welcome, accept and respect every one of our customers”:  An updated Customer Bill of Rights “declares that discrimination, unreasonable searches and profiling will not be tolerated, and provides new direction on how customers can report incidents in our stores.” Macy’s will institute training to identify and mitigate bias within customers and employee interactions.
  2. “Reflect and reach the full spectrum of our customers in our imagery, messages and experience”: Management set a goal of achieving 50 percent representation from gender/gender identity, ethnicity, age, size and “differently abled” subjects across advertising by 2020.
  3. “Reflect the full spectrum of diversity at all levels of our workforce”: Macy’s goal is to reach 30 percent ethnic diversity by 2025 for senior director level and above. A 12-month leadership program has been launched to support a select group of managers of black/African-American, Hispanic-Latino, Native American and Asian descent.
  4. “Drive growth with under-represented suppliers”: Achieve a diverse supplier spend of at least five percent by 2021.
  5. “Build meaningful relationships with community partners whose objectives align with our business goals and our company values”: In 2019, the retailer will launch economic development partnerships in at least five cities in collaboration with Macy’s business accelerators — The Workshop at Macy’s, The Market @ Macy’s and STORY.

Macy’s said its new diversity goals build on efforts taken over the last 10 years to become a more inclusive organization. The company hired its first chief diversity officer last year.

“At Macy’s, diversity and inclusion are essential to our culture and core values. Our mission is to embed D&I into how we think, act, and operate by fostering an inclusive culture and an environment that inspires, reflects, and embraces everyone,” said Jeff Gennette, chairman and CEO. “We hope the steps we are taking will encourage others to reaffirm their commitments to inclusion for all.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are Macy’s elevated goals around diversity and inclusion practical from a business perspective? What advantages might Macy’s gain in the marketplace, if it is successful in implementing its plan? Do any of the five steps appear particularly problematic?

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"Consumers respond to companies they can identify with. The closer Macy’s gets to looking, feeling and acting like its customer base, the better it will be."

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8 Comments on "Macy’s elevates diversity goals"

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Shep Hyken

First, it’s too bad there are goals for diversity. In today’s diverse world, diversity shouldn’t even be an issue. But it is, and I applaud Macy’s for stepping up to make a public statement about their goals and the “why” behind it. The advantages listed (as goals and steps) in the article are obvious. From a consumer’s perspective, a customer wants to go where they are like, accepted and comfortable. (Kind of like “Cheers,” where “everybody knows your name.”)

Cathy Hotka

A more diverse Macy’s is a stronger Macy’s. Let’s watch their progress and apply those learnings to more of the industry.

Neil Saunders

This is very worthy and most of it should be supported. I do, however, question the sense in diversifying suppliers as a stated goal. Macy’s should use suppliers that are right for its business; nothing more and nothing less. That, by common sense, might include some smaller suppliers which have interesting products or services to offer. I don’t think this should be an enumerated goal.

The rest of it is good. Perhaps if Macy’s management better reflected their customer base or “average” Americans they might be a better retailer because of it.

Brandon Rael

Diversity, inclusion and a closer connection to the local communities that companies such as Macy’s and others serve, should be embedded in the DNA of the corporate strategy and values. These values are imperative for all companies, including Macy’s, to get right, as the workforce should clearly reflect the richness and diversity of our evolving workforce.

From a business perspective, social, environmental and cultural consciousness matter more than ever. Patagonia has won the hearts and minds of their loyal consumers with their strong stances on environmental awareness. By taking a stronger stance on diversity and inclusion, Macy’s could take a significant step of standing for something meaningful, beyond the actual transactions.

Steve Montgomery

I agree with Shep that this should not take a special set of initiatives. It should be the way it is. Unfortunately it isn’t, and the focused efforts are necessary. The practicality will vary by the goal. While it could be said that Macy’s is in control of all of the goals, they are more in control of some of them, such as reflecting the spectrum of their customers in their imagery. Others will take a more concerted effort.

Rob Gallo

Practical? Yes, because it is the right thing to do. Consumers respond to companies they can identify with. The closer Macy’s gets to looking, feeling and acting like its customer base, the better it will be.

Doug Garnett

I like seeing Macy’s be a good citizen. That said, this doesn’t seem likely to drive much change. Top-down diversity programs aren’t tremendously successful — diversity must happen and be grown at an organic level to make much difference.

Do they gain in the marketplace? It all depends on whether they have a problem today. In my experiences at Macy’s, I haven’t noticed a diversity problem either among store help or shoppers. So I’d be surprised if this makes much difference.

Bottom line: It’s a good thing but I don’t expect too much from it.

Scott Norris

My wife and I walked through the Rosedale Mall (Minnesota) location this Saturday, and the points fellow commenters have made all resonate. Our observations of the merchandise and department layouts further underscore this concern: the mix looks like someone in Manhattan’s stereotypical idea of what Twin Citians want – but bears little resemblance to the people walking through the store. Our market – and this store’s trade area in particular – is increasingly diverse, with East African, Indian, Hmong, and East Asian populations booming, and these populations are either aspiring to better fashion or already have the income to buy it. Where are the colors and fabrics and garment types that these audiences would respond favorably to? And the mix of sizes on the racks and tables likewise did not match the body sizes of shoppers walking through (seriously, half the selection in men’s dress shirts is sport/athletic cut – have they *looked* at us up here?) – which may explain why shoppers were walking through and not stopping to buy…

"Consumers respond to companies they can identify with. The closer Macy’s gets to looking, feeling and acting like its customer base, the better it will be."

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