Living a fulfilled and healthy life is different for each and every one of us. Understanding and embracing those differences for Kohl’s customers, associates, and communities is not just the right thing to do, but critical to driving growth for the organization. At Kohl’s, we are committed to creating an environment where everyone feels a sense of equity, where diversity is valued at all levels, and where inclusion is evident across our business.
Diversity & Inclusion
Committing to Change
To illustrate our investment in diversity and inclusion, Kohl’s CEO Michelle Gass signed the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™ pledge in 2019, joining more than 900 leaders from top organizations across the country in an effort to advance diversity and inclusion within the workplace.
Kohl’s is continuing its commitment to the Milwaukee Metropolitan Association of Commerce (MMAC) in support of the organization’s mission to improve metro Milwaukee as a place to invest capital, grow business and create jobs. Earlier this year, Kohl’s signed the MMAC’s Region of Choice Pledge commitment to increase the number of African-American and Hispanic/Latino employees in Metro Milwaukee by 15 percent, and the number of African-American and Hispanic/Latino managers in Metro Milwaukee by 25 percent, by 2025. The company is also a continuing member of the Greater Milwaukee Committee (GMC) in support of its mission to ensure Milwaukee is the best place to live, learn, work, play, and stay, and was an early signer of the GMC’s 2020 statement on racism and systemic inequities.
Kohl's has also pledged to double spending among diverse suppliers.
Everyone Plays a Role
As part of Kohl's pledge to create an environment where everyone feels a sense of equity, where diversity is valued at all levels, and where inclusion is evident across our business, the company created a new Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) framework addressing three pillars: Our People, Our Customers and Our Community.
Business Resource Groups
We have eight Business Resource Groups (BRGs) with more than 7,500 members focused on driving business by recognizing and championing diversity and inclusion in its multiple forms. In 2019, we launched three new BRGs to strengthen our connection with different cultures and communities including, Asian Pacific, Black Professionals and diverseAbilities. The BRGs make an impact across the organization with a focus on our three diversity and inclusion pillars. They lead our organization’s cultural celebrations, offer opportunities for diverse talent to grow in their career with leadership and mentoring opportunities, drive strategy by acting as a key resource to various business units across the organization, and work directly with nonprofits that connect with their communities.
Unconscious Bias Training
We work to provide learning opportunities for our leaders and associates to build a more diverse and inclusive workforce and engage associates on how that creates a competitive advantage. In 2019, we piloted unconscious bias training to help associates understand and manage their blind spots, and to build stronger connections with colleagues, customers, partners, and our communities. This required training has rolled out to all associates company-wide beginning in June 2020, with plans to have all training completed by the end of 2020.
Inclusive Benefit Offerings
As the makeup and needs of the modern family evolve, our products, services, and programs must also transform. We regularly evaluate how our benefit offerings can be more inclusive of the needs of our associates. Based on ongoing assessment and associate feedback, we expanded our benefit offerings in 2019. This expansion included extending parental leave time for child-bearing parents and non-child-bearing parents, which covers surrogacy and associates who are the spouse or domestic partner of child-bearing parents. We also started offering benefit coverage to domestic partners and launched additional childcare benefits.
In 2019, we strengthened our recruiting efforts with a focus on education, training, and sourcing strategies for increasing our diverse talent pipeline. This included expanding campus recruiting to include Historically Black Colleges and Universities and having BRG members act as our representatives at campus events. We also expanded our outreach to student organizations by attending more than 30 diversity-focused events. For the first time in 2019, we attended the Grace Hopper Conference — the largest female tech conference in the world, extending more than 40 job offers to female technologists. Kohl’s is proud to be recognized for the second consecutive year in 2020 as a participant in AnitaB.org’s Top Companies for Women Technologists Program, further demonstrating our commitment to Diversity & Inclusion.
We actively recruit Veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses for a variety of roles. We believe Veterans and military families come from a culture of leading through change, are strongly resilient, and have experience driving performance and results. The importance of these leadership skills led our talent teams to engage with several military bases and partner with Veteran service organizations to help connect service members and their spouses to careers within our organization.
It’s important that our talent understands our commitment to diversity and inclusion from day one. To ensure this understanding, we have embedded our diversity and inclusion strategy into onboarding for all associates.
Diversity and inclusion efforts need to start at the top. In 2019, we joined the 1% club — the handful of Fortune 500 firms where both the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer are women. We are focused on growing diverse leaders by engaging top and emerging talent in internal and external professional development offerings. Diversity is embedded within our organizational planning for the future, with diversity being a key consideration during succession planning. We are also working to develop inclusive leaders through a program aimed at building awareness and encouraging advocacy.
We strive to celebrate our differences and help more customers see themselves reflected in our brands. Along this journey, we're working to offer culturally-relevant products, designs and storytelling that are meaningful to diverse customers. We recently partnered with a locally-owned business to bring a selection of equity tees to select Kohl’s stores and Kohls.com to celebrate coming together in support of racial equality. This is one example of t-shirt assortments Kohl’s has introduced to support the many customers and communities we serve, including an assortment of Pride graphic tees for customers to show their support of the LGBTQ+ community, an Americana collection in support of veteran and military families, and a collection celebrating Hispanic Heritage.
In 2019, we introduced adaptive clothing with styles available from our three largest, only-at-Kohl’s kids’ brands. With features including abdominal access for medical ports and feeding tubes, sensory-friendly options for better comfort, and wheelchair-friendly options for ease of wear, the new adaptive clothing is thoughtfully designed and strives to make stylish, quality apparel accessible to all.
A group of parents within our organization, whose families include someone with a disability or complex medical need, helped to inform the development of the adaptive clothing line. Members of our product development, design, and technical design teams worked to understand these unique needs and create beneficial products that help meet them. Our hospital partners also helped to test and review the products.
A military discount was strongly advocated for by members of the Veterans BRG. We introduced Military Mondays in 2019, offering a 15% discount for active and former military personnel, Veterans, and their families. The discount is valid year-round, every Monday when customers show a valid Military ID at the point of purchase in store.
Your Community is Our Community
In the summer of 2019, customers were able to shop an assortment of vibrant Pride- and Americana-themed tees for the family that celebrated our communities. Coinciding with the launch of the Family Fun tees collections, donations of $100,000 were made to both The Trevor Project and the United Service Organizations to support each nonprofit’s life-changing mission.
Kohl's Support of the Milwaukee Community
Kohl’s announced in August of 2020 that it is strengthening its commitment to the Milwaukee community with a $1 million donation to five nonprofit organizations that serve diverse communities. The five benefiting nonprofits include three new Hometown partners — The Milwaukee Urban League, Employ Milwaukee (EMI), and Acts Housing — and a renewed commitment to two of Kohl's existing Hometown partners — Safe & Sound and Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee. The partnerships reflect a joint commitment between Kohl's and area nonprofits to improve equity and economic empowerment for Black and Hispanic residents in under-served communities in the Milwaukee area. In addition to financial contributions, Kohl's will support the nonprofit organizations through associate volunteerism, leadership engagement and creating opportunities for a talent pipeline to Kohl's.
In 2019, Kohl’s donated more than $2.5 million and logged more than 2,500 volunteer hours for nonprofit organizations in the Milwaukee area that are focused on supporting diverse communities, including Hunger Task Force, COA Youth & Family Centers and Penfield Children’s Center. The funds support a variety of programs and initiatives that enrich community health and wellness, arts and culture, conservation, education, and social services.
Each of our BRGs is allotted funding to donate to a cause of the group’s choice. Associates in #PrideAtKohls forged a long-standing partnership with Courage MKE, an inspirational nonprofit that provides resources and a support system for LGBTQ+ youth. #PrideAtKohls members devoted nearly 400 hours in 2019 to assist Courage MKE in opening the Courage House, a home where LGBTQ+ youth can feel respected and valued for who they are while receiving the skills and resources they need to thrive. Through the Kohl’s Volunteer Program, the BRG was able to give more than just a helping hand, as we also donated $10,000 in volunteer rewards to Courage MKE.