Meaningful Action on Pledge for Progress
The following outlines how we took meaningful action on our Pledge for Progress in 2020.
As people across the country and the world came together to protest the long-standing and systemic issues of racism, discrimination and injustice in 2020, we stood with them. As a large company — and one that serves millions of families from diverse backgrounds — we acknowledge pervasive injustices in the country and committed to actions and behaviors that will make our company, stores and the world a better place, as outlined in our D&I Pledge for Progress. In 2020, CEO Michelle Gass created a D&I Task Force in partnership with our D&I team, to better understand what opportunities we have, and to hold ourselves accountable for the long term. This accelerated our D&I strategy and continues to influence how we embed D&I across the business.
We believe we can do more to ensure our workforce reflects our marketplace, and to create more opportunities for career growth for all underrepresented groups.
Talent Attraction Practices
In 2020, to further improve our effectiveness and relatability, all of our recruiters completed Unconscious Bias, Influencing, Diversity Sourcing and Diversity 101 training. We strengthened our recruiting efforts focusing on education, training and sourcing strategies for increasing our diverse talent pipeline. This included expanding campus recruiting to include Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions and having BRG members act as our representatives at campus events. We also expanded our outreach by utilizing various channels to enhance exposure to and and recruiting of diverse talent, such as diverse-centric job boards, recruiting agencies, sororities and fraternities. Additionally, job postings now include a D&I commitment that reinforces our plans to build a more gender-balanced and ethnically diverse workforce. In the face of a virtual world in 2020, we created and executed a strategy engaging diverse external partnerships as a conduit to broaden exposure and connections in reaching diverse candidates. Partners include the African American Chamber of Wisconsin, The Harbor Institute, Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee, National Association of Black Accountants, Prospanica and Social X.
We invest in executive coaching, leadership assessments, internal programs, external courses and peer networks, with a focus on identifying opportunities designed to meet the personal and professional needs of our underrepresented talent across the organization. In 2020, we took a closer look at our leadership development programs and set goals to ensure diversity in the participant makeup. This will support our efforts to increase representation across leadership by empowering career growth and preparing more associates for leadership roles.
Performance Goal Integration
For the first time in 2020, all people leaders were required to include actions that support and strengthen our D&I efforts in their annual performance goals, to ensure our values are embodied throughout our organization and to drive real change for our people, customers and community.
In late 2019, we began rolling out an unconscious bias workshop to all leaders. As part of our commitment to overcoming racial injustice and fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace, we launched the required training to the full company in fiscal 2020. The learning experience was designed to help associates understand and manage blind spots and build stronger connections with colleagues, customers, partners and communities. The training is the foundation of annual required D&I training that will equip associates to continue to develop a diverse and inclusive workplace. Additionally, in 2020, we partnered with external organizations for learning opportunities that will equip leaders on their journey to foster inclusion, manage bias and appreciate the value of differences.
We’re committed to listening sessions, leadership presentations and BRG engagement that serve to maintain an ongoing dialogue while championing the value of D&I.
We’re Listening Sessions
To foster an open and transparent culture, it’s important that leaders create a safe space for discussion and feedback. We’re Listening meetings are a valuable forum for leaders to connect with associates on important topics, including D&I. Our Operating Committee facilitated sessions on D&I throughout the year and has committed to listening, learning and taking action going forward to ensure associates feel seen, heard and valued.
Brave and Courageous Conversations
Throughout 2020, our Brave and Courageous Conversations series came to life in a variety of formats to help meet the evolving needs of our associates, providing safe spaces for authentic and honest dialogue coupled with educational learning sessions led by internal and external subject matter experts. We continue to build upon our list of curated resources for our leaders and team members in an ongoing effort to support our individual and collective D&I journey both inside and outside of the organization.
In 2020, we developed a D&I resource hub on our internal website for store and corporate associates to provide updates on our D&I strategy, showcase progress, empower associates to play a role in our journey and offer learning and development resources.
Business Resource Groups
We have eight BRGs with 7,500 members focused on driving business by recognizing and championing D&I in its multiple forms. In 2020, we extended the opportunity to join BRGs to all of our store associates, in addition to our existing Corporate and Distribution Center /E-Fulfillment Center associates.
The BRGs make an impact across the organization with a focus on our three D&I pillars. From a People perspective, they support our organization’s cultural celebrations and offer opportunities for diverse talent to grow in their careers with leadership and mentoring opportunities. From a Customer perspective, they support our business strategy by acting as consultants and serving as focus groups for various business units across the organization. From a Community perspective, they work directly with nonprofits that connect with their communities and counsel leaders on how to make a meaningful impact in our underserved communities.
Kohl’s currently has seven diverse (gender or racial/ethnic diversity) directors on its 14-member board of directors - 50%.
We believe we must be intentional about welcoming and serving diverse customers, including the products we offer, stories we tell and experiences we provide.
Launch of Diversity Design Council
In 2020, we launched an in-house Diversity Design Council to develop, purchase and curate culturally relevant products. The council consists of associates from across our Product Development and Merchandising teams and is led by our Senior Vice President of Design and Brand Management. Members are both allies and individuals whose lived experiences represent the diverse customers we aim to reach.
Marketing Agency Partnership
In 2020, we began a partnership with an agency with specific expertise in cultural consumer-facing dynamics. Leveraging their highly diverse team, we partner on multicultural insights, strategy and creative marketing solutions to continually build lasting customer relationships and strengthen our brand with multicultural audiences and the general marketplace overall.
Empowering Women- & Black-Owned Businesses
As we work to reach diverse customers, we’re committed to leveraging our scale, resources and expertise to empower diverse creators and businesses. In 2020, we launched nearly a dozen diverse-owned brands featuring sustainable cards; women’s, men’s and baby apparel; beauty and grooming products; and more through initiatives like Curated by Kohl’s and Kohl’s Wellness Market.
Curated by Kohl’s and Kohl’s Wellness Market are shop-in-shop experiences in select store locations and on Kohls.com, introducing customers to a respective revolving set of emerging brands and a selection of brands focused on health and wellness. Curated by Kohl’s and Kohl’s Wellness Market have enabled us to invest in diverse-founded and diverse owned emerging businesses and help to ensure our shoppers can see themselves and their communities represented through the brands in our store.
Furthermore, our partnerships with diverse founded and diverse-owned businesses provide an opportunity for these emerging brands to reach millions of our customers across the country.
Celebrating Cultural Moments
In a year where everything was different, we made sure to celebrate key cultural moments throughout the year. We introduced product assortments to support the many customers and communities we serve, including an assortment for Pride month for customers to show their support of the LGBTQ+ community, Americanathemed products in support of military personnel and their families, adaptive clothing to make stylish, quality apparel accessible to all and a collection celebrating Hispanic Heritage. Additionally, Kohl’s offers a 15% in-store discount for military personnel, veterans and their families every Monday all year long, along with an increased discount for Veterans Day weekend
T-Shirt Collection Celebrates Togetherness
In support of the many diverse customers and communities we serve, we were proud to offer a collection of family tees that featured messages of togetherness in support of racial equality. We partnered with Milwaukee-area Black-owned business Cream City Print Lounge to design and supply a portion of the collection, which was available online at Kohls.com and in select stores nationwide. The assortment included a selection of tees from Cream City Print Lounge and other vendors across men’s, women’s and kids’ categories.
We believe we can help improve quality of life by supporting more equitable health and economic outcomes in our diverse and underserved communities.
In 2020, we created a Supplier Diversity team to embed and activate supplier diversity best practices across our entire supply chain to support our pledge to double our spending among diverse suppliers by 2025. We developed a charter that includes objectives centered on the learnings from supplier diversity organizations, best-practice webinars and industry discussions with best-in-class corporate programs. To drive charter goals, we established cross division councils for both merchandise and non-merchandise divisions to drive consistency in best practices across the entire company.
After surveying and validating the diverse status of our primary suppliers, we developed report analytics to continuously collect and measure inclusion efforts, which will enable us to set multi-year goals to drive toward a best-in-class program. We joined external organizations that support diversity in commerce, covering businesses owned by minorities, women, LGBTQ+, veterans and people with diverse abilities. Benefits include access to best-in-class program management and support, attendance at regional and national trade fairs and access to supplier databases with thousands of diverse companies. These databases are used to proactively find and ensure the inclusion of diverse suppliers for opportunities in all of our sourcing events. To align with our mission of impacting the economic advancement of the communities we serve, we sponsored annual meetings for both the Regional and National Minority Supplier Diversity Council (NMSDC), further illustrating our commitment to diversity.
Starting with a focus in our hometown of Milwaukee, in 2020, we strengthened our commitment to the Milwaukee community with an additional $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 and Acts Housing — and a renewed commitment to two of our existing hometown partners — Safe & Sound and Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee.
The partnerships reflect our joint commitment with area nonprofits to improve equity and economic empowerment for Black and Hispanic residents in underserved communities in the Milwaukee area. In addition to financial contributions, we support the nonprofit organizations through associate volunteerism, leadership engagement and creating opportunities for a talent pipeline
This incremental donation supplements our existing efforts to support diverse communities nationwide. Through our partnerships with Alliance for a Healthier Generation, Boys & Girls Clubs of America and many local nonprofit organizations across the country, we are working to support more equitable outcomes for underserved communities.
In addition to our philanthropic commitments, we are contributing to the Milwaukee community through business and industry partnerships. We are continuing our 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.
In early 2020, we 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.