Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Working Group Meetings

Previous call topics, speakers and exclusive NRF retail member resources:

July 9, 2022 – Working Group Meeting – We had dynamic conversations about strategic partnerships with LVMH’s Corey Smith and UnidosUS’s SVP for advancement and external affairs, Delia de la Vara. Corey shared valuable insights on integrating DE&I into business operations and innovations in luxury brands and Delia walked us through a fantastic case study on a multi-faceted partnership with Wal-Mart, the Spina Bifida Association and others, to improve health outcomes for Latinas.  Both speakers emphasized that strategic partnerships are much more than financial transactions. Some of the discussion focused on the importance of DE&I in both the public and private sectors and how partnerships can drive collective action on systemic issues and the change we want to see in communities. We plan to continue the conversation on strategic partnership in our July meeting and would like to include perspectives on disability inclusion. (No video available.)

May 11, 2022 - Working Group Meeting - Our first in-person meeting of the working group, we discussed engagement challenges and opportunities in marketing (Jackeline Stewart-Hawkins and Judy Alterado, Edelman), supply chain (Kimberly Smith, Marjani; Adeola Ogunneye, Arome; Timothy Fair, Burlington Stores), and throughout retail organizations. George-Axelle Broussillon Matschinga, Sephora and Calla Rongerude, Open to All, walked our participants through a presentation on mitigating racial bias in a retail charter.  NRF Foundation vice president, Adam Lukoskie, highlighted their work in promoting retail jobs – training and credentialing, scholarships, and talent acquisition.  Our colleagues at Mozaic Strategies lead us in breakout sessions. (Video Link)

April 21, 2022 - Working Group Meeting - Our partners from Mozaic Strategies presented insights and perspectives gathered from our working group members on the evolving DE& I issues landscape. This was a great opportunity for interactive discussions about how retail – and our DE&I Working Group - can continue to advance strategies for engagement and collaboration in DE&I.  In advance of the meeting, we shared a summary of research findings from our colleagues at Mozaic Strategies. (Video Link)

March 29, 2022 – Working Group Virtual Meeting - This month we featured guest speaker Janis Bowdler, Counselor for Racial Equity, U.S. Department of TreasuryThis was a great  opportunity to hear from a visionary leader in government, whose career has spanned local Community Development Financial Institutions work (CDFI), national advocacy and international corporate philanthropy. The press release announcing her appointment notes that her role includes coordination of all the Treasury Department’s racial equity initiatives. The insightful conversation was moderated by our new diversity consultant, Carolina Espinal of Mozaic Strategies. (Video Link)

November 18, 2021 – Working Group Virtual Meeting – Our meeting focused on the mission and effectiveness of affinity/employee resource groups as they have become a major tool for retail diversity and inclusion programs. Panelists were: Carmen Arocho-Blanco, Senior Director – Equity, Inclusion & Diversity, tapestry; Diana Ng, Senior Director, Global People & Organization Development, tapestry; Mecca Mitchell, Senior Vice President, Inclusion & Diversity, Burlington Stores, Inc.; Yvette Dueser, Director, Inclusion & Diversity, Burlington Stores, Inc.  (Video Link)

October 14, 2021 – Working Group Virtual Meeting – In commemoration of Hispanic Heritage Month we featured four Latinx owned businesses who took part in a panel which discussed the achievements, influence and contributions of Latinx entrepreneurs . The panel described some of the challenges faced when starting out in business and staying in business – especially during a pandemic. The panel included:  Mei-Lon and Toni Jimenez of CHICA BEAUTY; Carla Fonseca of Viva Greetings; Jocelyn Ramirez of Todo Verde; and, Vivian Sayward of Vivacity Sportswear. (Video Link)

September 16, 2021 – Working Group Virtual Meeting – NRF presented and discussed the results of our Aug-Sep survey. Linked here is the analysis we shared at the meeting. We also held a panel discussion on issues such as diversity recruiting in colleges and universities, C-suite and corporate boards, employee retention, diversity reporting, unconscious bias training, improving corporate culture, and addressing social impact issues.  The panel included:  Dre Alicea -Director of Diversity Equity and Inclusion, David’s Bridal; Audra Fry -Manager, Talent Acquisition- University Relations, Bath & Body Works; Jessie Heath -Director of Inclusion & Corporate Human Resources, La-Z-Boy Corporate; and, Jamille Jones -Senior Manager, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Bath & Body Works.

July 29, 2021 – Working Group Virtual Meeting – Our panel had an informative discussion on “Setting up a corporate diversity program with an emphasis on supporting women & minority owned businesses.”  The panel included: Mecca E. Mitchell, Senior Vice President, Inclusion & Diversity, Burlington Stores, Inc.; and, Stacia Marie Jones, Esq.,Vice President, Global head of IDEA, Lululemon Athletica. (Burlington Presentation Slides) (Video Link)

June 10, 2021 – Working Group Virtual Meeting – At the June meeting, we were joined by career service representatives from four HBCUs: North Carolina A&T State University, Florida A&M, Bethune-Cookman University and Clark Atlanta University. Our guest speakers and retail members participated in a lively, interactive discussion on “Partnering with Corporate America to Develop Employment Pipelines and Foster Mentorships.” (Video Link)

May 25, 2021 – Working Group Virtual Meeting – The May 2021 working group meeting featured NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay and Marc H. Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League. Shay and Morial discussed the critical work being done to address the racial disparities that exist in communities, both large and small, across the United States as we mark one year since George Floyd's murder. Pairing the breadth and scope of the retail industry with the expertise of the National Urban League, they addressed the importance of approaching these efforts with the resources, commitment and accountability that results in:

  • Economic opportunity for African Americans and all communities of color 

  • Equity in educational opportunity 

  • The elimination of health care disparities 

  • The removal of obstacles to equal justice 

  • Supplier diversity 

(Video Link)

April 8, 2021 – Working Group Virtual Meeting – Results of NRF’s Diversity & Inclusion survey were released and discussed. Shawn Outler, chief diversity officer at Macy’s Inc., gave a brief overview of the company’s diversity recruiting efforts and the relationships Macy’s has formed with HBCUs. George-Axelle Broussillon Matschinga, vice president of diversity and inclusion at Sephora, provided attendees insight into Sephora’s ongoing efforts. Attendees discussed their interactions and successes in working with HBCUs. We received an update from Robin Wagher (wagherr@nrf.com) on programs and activities at the NRF Foundation including the Talent Acquisition GroupRISE Up (training and credentialing for retail careers), partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the Foundation’s University Programs, which award more than $500,000 in college scholarships each year and help retailers connect with amazing talent.

March 11, 2021 – Working Group Virtual Meeting – Representative Alma Adams (NC-12), a member of the House Committee on Education and Labor and the founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Caucus, joined us to share her thoughts on ways the retail industry can incorporate HBCUs into their employee hiring and training programs.

We also featured representatives from the United Negro College Fund, who led a discussion on the importance of HBCUs and how graduates have added to the diversity and overall impact of the American workforce. They spoke of current and potential partnerships that corporations, particularly retailers, have with UNCF and HBCUs, their history, their importance and what’s next (presentation).

January 14, 2021 – Working Group Virtual Meeting – “Diversity Hiring and Recruitment in Retail America”: Ben-Saba Hasan, senior vice president and chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer of Walmart Inc., was the featured presenter (presentation). We had an engaging and interactive discussion on industry best practices and strategies for ensuring diversity in our hiring and recruitment (report) (1/14/2021 call recording).

December 10, 2020 – Working Group Virtual Meeting – “Retention and Promotion in Retail America”: Featuring presentations from Shawn Outler, Macy’s chief diversity officer (presentation); Dr. Stefanie Johnson, author of INCLUSIFY (presentation); and Weldon Latham, leader of the Jackson Lewis Corporate Diversity Counseling practice group (slideadditional material).

October 8, 2020 – Working Group Virtual Meeting – Cassi Pittman Claytor, professor of sociology at Case Western University, and George-Axelle Broussillon Matschinga, vice president of diversity and inclusion at Sephora, led a dialogue on retail racism in America and its long-term effects on customers and business.

August 6, 2020 - Working Group Virtual Meeting – Representatives from Starbucks Corporation shared an overview of Starbucks’ D&I course which was developed in conjunction with Arizona State University (presentation). NRF also released and discussed the results of our D&I benchmarking survey (survey results) (8/6/2020 call recording).

June 24, 2020 – Working Group Virtual Meeting – Members of NRF’s Diversity & Inclusion team reviewed the working group’s goals and purpose and led a discussion on some of the priority issues on which retailers would like to engage. The discussion included diversity from the top down, social impacts, employee education and hiring practices. Weldon Latham, leader of the Jackson Lewis Corporate Diversity Counseling Practice Group, was introduced as a co-leader of the working group.