Businesspeople walking at modern office. Group of business employees at coworking center. Motion blur. Concept work process. Wide image

It has been a year since the black squares. Since the flood of #BLM hashtags. Since companies came out with promises to improve the racial diversity in their businesses, admitting (in some cases for the first time) that they had a problem.

There have been chief diversity officers named and unconscious bias trainings and a lot of “listening and learning.” Some companies have kept at the effort to improve representation among people of color and made updated commitments to it, while others have quietly done little at all — or, at the very least, said little at all about what they may be doing.

So where are we now? Largely, it seems the industry’s leading brands and businesses are on a steady, albeit slow-moving, train toward progress. But the changes in representation one year out — particularly at the C-suite and leadership levels where it’s needed most — are minuscule at best.

“I feel like fashion — really along with a lot of different industries — we’re all in a tough spot because we don’t have the infrastructure that we need to go really as fast at the commitments as we need,” said Levi Strauss & Co. chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer Elizabeth A. Morrison. “But we also have to set ourselves up for sustainable progress because it won’t be good enough for us to see a spike in representation for the next two years and then in three years we’re right back where we started because we really didn’t do the due diligence we needed.”

As the world begins to reopen with COVID-19 drifting into the rearview mirror and the intensity of 2020’s social justice movement somewhat subsiding, WWD checks in on whether fashion’s 20 most valuable American brands according to Brand Finance, are keeping their commitments to diversity and inclusion.

FILE - In this May 16, 2011 file photo, the WalMart Supercenter signage is seen in Springfield, Ill. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is reporting Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012, a 4.2 percent decline in fourth-quarter profits. But the world's largest retailer's U.S. namesake business continued its rebound as its grabbed shoppers over the critical holidays. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)

WalMart Supercenter signage is seen in Springfield, Ill.  Seth Perlman/AP

WALMART INC.

U.S. workforce diversity reported in 2020: 56 percent white, 21 percent Black, 15 percent Latine, 5 percent Asian, 2 percent two or more races, 1 percent Native

U.S. workforce diversity reported in 2021: 53 percent white, 21 percent Black, 17 percent Latine, 4 percent Asian, 3 percent two or more races, 2 percent Native

Key 2020 commitment: “Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are committing $100 million to create a new center on racial equity. Through this $100 million commitment, the center will support philanthropic initiatives that align with four key areas: the nation’s financial, health care, education and criminal justice systems.”

The progress: “With respect to the Center for Racial Equity, the first round of grants were distributed in February,” a Walmart spokesperson told WWD. The company has so far doled out $14.3 million in grants to 16 nonprofit organizations that will help fulfill the center’s mission “to complement and extend the societal impact of Walmart business initiatives to advance racial equity in the nation’s financial, health, criminal justice and education systems.”

In the last year, Walmart said its new hires have been nearly 50 percent women (almost 28 percent women of color), 28 percent Black and 18 percent Latine.

The company also created Shared Value Networks in June last year, noting in its Culture Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Annual Report released in late April that: “Following six months of discovery assessing gaps in social systems, issues and solutions, each SVN identified three pillars of focus. The SVNs make recommendations to the SVN Steering Committee, led by Doug McMillon, president and chief executive officer of Walmart Inc., on how to solve social challenges through business strategies by identifying the natural overlaps between Walmart capabilities (products, services, technology, sourcing, jobs and advancement) and opportunities to influence racial equity at scale.”

Walmart’s RACE Ahead (Raising Authentic Conversations on Equity) series, also added in the last year, taps internal and external speakers for “transparent, relevant and solutions-oriented conversations” that deal with the history of race and racial inequity in America.

The claim: “Our Shared Value Networks, Center for Racial Equity, RACE Ahead series and increased data transparency…weren’t on our radar at the start of 2020. Now, they’re integral parts of our story and plans for the future,” Walmart senior vice president and global chief culture, diversity, equity and inclusion officer Ben Hasan, said in the company’s April report. “While these things were unplanned, they’re all logical next steps in the journey we’ve been on and ultimately were made possible by the foundation we’ve built over the years. Planning is a priority for success, however final performance is often dictated by how quickly and effectively you can pivot when plans are disrupted. 2020 taught us the importance of that lesson.”

NIKE INC.

Nike draws a crowd at the reopened Grove.

Nike store at the Grove in Los Angeles.  Michael Buckner/WWD

U.S. workforce diversity reported in 2020: 43 percent white, 22 percent Black, 19 percent Latine, 9 percent Asian, 6 percent two or more races, 1 percent Native

U.S. workforce diversity reported in 2021: 41 percent white, 24 percent Black, 18 percent Latine, 10 percent Asian, 6 percent two or more races, 1 percent Native

Key 2020 commitment: “Today [June 12, 2020] Nike Inc. is announcing a $40 million commitment over the next four years to support the Black community in the U.S. on behalf of the Nike, Jordan and Converse brands collective. This commitment will be focused on investing in and supporting organizations that put social justice, education and addressing racial inequality in America at the center of their work.

During this past year, we’ve stepped up our own efforts and measures of accountability in the areas of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging to foster an inclusive environment and attract a more diverse workforce.”

The progress: “Nike Inc. has committed $40 million over the next four years to invest in and support organizations focused on social justice, education and economic empowerment to address racial inequality for Black Americans on behalf of our Nike, Converse and Jordan brands. In addition to the investment from Nike Inc., Jordan Brand and Michael Jordan are each committing $50 million — for a total of $100 million over the 10 years — to support the Black community,” Jarvis Sam, global vice president of diversity and inclusion at Nike told WWD. “In the first year of our commitment, we have announced partnerships on the Nike side with organizations like Black Girls Code, Black Girl Ventures, Goalsetter, National Urban League, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. Jordan Brand Michael Jordan have announced partnership with organizations that include Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, Morehouse College, Black Votes Matter and more.”

Of the $40 million commitment, $8.25 million has already been donated from the Nike side. And of the $100 million promised by Jordan Brand and Michael Jordan partners, $7.5 million has gone out.

On the representation in leadership, Nike said things have also improved.

“We increased representation of women at the director and above level by 2 percentage points over 2019, and women now make up 50 percent of our total employee base,” Sam said. “Representation of U.S. racial and ethnic minorities at the director and above level increased by 2 percentage points, and representation of U.S. racial and ethnic minorities at the vice president level increased 8 percentage points.”

The claim: “What we heard over the past year as we met with groups to hear how we could expand beyond our June 2020 commitments to the Black community, was that we must also continue our work to support Hispanic and Latinx populations, Asian Americans and the broader AAPI community, Native and Indigenous populations and more,” Sam said. “The difficulty in driving this work is that we must not only focus on diversity and inclusion, but sharpen our efforts to include equity, belonging and solidarity. We have to understand that elements like education and economic empowerment remain key areas that are so critical for the Black community, whereas highlighting visibility, opportunity and access are critical components to supporting Asian Americans.”

More broadly, Sam believes fashion is moving in the right direction.

“The fashion industry — whether footwear, apparel, materials, color development or other areas — has long been built by communities of diverse backgrounds and those from marginalized experiences and backgrounds,” Sam said. “I think there is some incredible work being done by many leaders in the fashion industry. One example is Harlem’s Fashion Row. Brandice Daniel and her team are changing the game by thinking in a far more innovative fashion around what and how we build more effective programming to support the diversification of fashion.”

Target in Danvers, Mass.

Target in Danvers, Mass.  Lisa Poole/AP

TARGET CORP.

U.S. workforce diversity reported in 2020: 52 percent “non-diverse”, 48 percent “diverse”

U.S. workforce diversity reported in 2021: Target did not provide WWD an updated breakdown but the most recent numbers in its 2020 Corporate Responsibility Report say 51 percent non-people of color, 49 percent people of color.

Key 2020 commitment: “Target stands with Black families, communities and team members. As we face an inflection point in Minneapolis and across the country, we’re listening to our team, guests and communities, committed to using our size, scale and resources to help heal and create lasting change,” said Brian Cornell, chairman and CEO.

Initial efforts include:

• A $10 million investment from Target and the Target Foundation to support long-standing partners such as the National Urban League and the African American Leadership Forum in addition to adding new partners in Minneapolis-St. Paul and across the country.

• 10,000 hours of pro bono consulting services for Black- and people-of-color-owned small businesses in the Twin Cities, helping with rebuilding efforts.

• Continuing to provide essentials such as baby formula, diapers, medicine and more to communities most in need.

• Target Circle, the company’s loyalty program, will offer guests the option to direct Target funds to local nonprofits and include organizations supporting social justice.

The progress: In an update in May, Target reported that it has grown its “number of Black senior leaders by nearly 40 percent.”

The company also said: “We committed to spend more than $2 billion with Black-owned businesses, from vendors and construction companies to advertising agencies, by the end of 2025. We established Forward Founders to help Black entrepreneurs grow and scale their businesses in mass retail. The Target team also logged nearly 8,000 pro bono hours to support Black businesses in the local community.

…We are working to be a catalyst for action in civic engagement, focused on building greater trust, transparency and accountability and acting as a convener of partners to create change, including our voting rights principles to ensure everyone’s voice is heard. We’ve also joined organizations encouraging law enforcement reform, including the Business Roundtable, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and U.S. Conference of Mayors grant program.”

The claim: “While there is more work ahead, we remain steadfast in our commitment to driving this work and will continue to listen, learn and hold ourselves accountable to the goals we set,” the May update said.

TJ Maxx in North Andover, Mass.

TJ Maxx in North Andover, Mass.  Elise Amendola/AP

TJX COS. INC.

U.S. workforce diversity reported in 2020: 43 percent “not people of color,” 57 percent “people of color” 

U.S. workforce diversity reported in 2021: 43 percent “not people of color,” 57 percent “people of color”

Key 2020 commitment: “We stand with our Black associates, customers and communities. We are committed to donating $10 million over two years to global organizations that combat racial injustice and address systemic racism.

We will work to grow a more inclusive and diverse organization at all levels, ensuring management opportunities are accessible to Black talent.”

The progress: “TJX, through its foundations and other funding, has broadened its giving strategy to provide more direct support to Black communities,” the company told WWD in a statement. “In 2020, we increased our global commitment by providing an incremental $10 million in grant funding over a two-year period to organizations that are actively working to support equity and racial justice. The funding is divided among a number of organizations, supporting programs across our global businesses in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Australia. Here in the U.S., organizations receiving support include the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the National Urban League, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, the United Negro College Fund, and YWCA USA.”

At the managerial level, TJX said 34 percent of its U.S. staff are from diverse backgrounds.

While diverse representation at TJX remains unchanged, the company said again it is “committed to deploying efforts that should result in an increase in the representation of diverse candidates, and that Black talent has more access to promotion opportunities.”

“One way we are working to accomplish this is by working to have our store management teams reflect the geographic diversity of the community being served. Another path we are pursuing is to increase minority candidate representation when we recruit for early career positions,” the company noted. “Over the past year, we have prepared for this work by expanding our training for members of our global recruitment teams to help us source more diverse pools of job candidates.

The claim: “We know we can do better and we are working to increase the number of people of color, including Black associates, across the board and within management,” TJX said.

“As we continue to become a more inclusive and diverse organization at all levels, we know we must do it in a way that creates sustainable change over the long term,” the company noted. “We look forward to providing updates on our progress at TJX.com.”

Coach in Dallas.

Coach in Dallas.  LM Otero/AP

COACH (TAPESTRY INC.)

U.S. workforce diversity reported in 2020: 42 percent white, 12 percent Black, 25 percent Latine, 13 percent Asian, 6 percent “other POC,” 2 percent not disclosed

U.S. workforce diversity reported in 2021: 42 percent white, 12 percent Black, 26 percent Latine, 13 percent Asian, 2 percent not disclosed

Key 2020 commitment: “Together we stand with my fellow Black employees, customers, partners and the Black community as a whole. The time is now for meaningful action and we are in the process of partnering with a number of social justice, legal, and corporate entities to formulate a longer-term plan for addressing systemic inequality. More to follow soon on the actions we are taking,” former Tapestry CEO Jide Zeitlin said at the time.

The progress: “Over the past year, Tapestry has worked to impact change through our foundations and brands, providing over $1 million in financial resources to organizations that champion racial and social justice. Last month, on the anniversary of George Floyd’s death, we reaffirmed our commitment to social justice with three additional donations from our company foundation to the Equal Justice Initiative, NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc., and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund,” Carmen Arocho-Blanco, senior director of equity, inclusion and diversity at Tapestry, told WWD.

“We are incredibly proud of the launch of our three Employee Resource Groups: Black Alliance, Prouder Together, and Working Parents and Caregivers. A fourth ERG will launch this summer,” she said. “This year, we also welcomed new observances and celebrations — Juneteenth, Holocaust Remembrance, AAPI History Month and later this year, Hispanic Heritage. We have scaled our global strategy and now have Inclusion Councils forming in regions across the globe to carry out strategic roadmaps that are locally relevant and aligned to our enterprise goals.”

The claim: “The pandemic and the economic impact on our business did hold back our hiring and promotion rates, and that coupled with a reduction in our overall workforce contributed to our percentages remaining stable year over year,” Arocho-Blanco said. “Our focus this past year has been on equity and ensuring that our systems, processes and policies contribute to a truly inclusive environment where employees can thrive. Part of this work has been to put steps in place to diversify our talent pipeline through partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and organizations like the Black in Fashion Council.”

“We recognize that we are still early on in our EI&D journey and there is a lot more work to do, but we are committed to making progress and creating sustainable change in the industry,” she added. “While we cannot comment on the fashion industry as a whole, we have seen more diversity in front of the lens through customer-facing marketing campaigns and social media content. However, there is still an opportunity to improve BIPOC talent representation in corporate environments, especially in leadership roles.” 

The North Face store in New York.

The North Face store in New York.  Ted Shaffrey/AP

THE NORTH FACE (VF CORP.)

U.S. workforce diversity reported in 2020: 43 percent white, 13 percent Black, 30 percent Latine, 14 percent not identified.

U.S. workforce diversity reported in 2021: VF could not provide WWD updated data for this story, noting that it would release the information in July.

Key 2020 commitment: “To combat racism now, we’re donating $50,000 to the ACLU to support their work on police accountability, racial justice and defending the right to protest.

…Our Explore Fund has donated to organizations fostering equality in the outdoors for the past 10 years. Going forward, our focus will narrow solely to address barriers that prevent safe exploration and create access for all. To start, we’re donating $25,000 each to our long-standing partners, Outdoor Afro and PGM One immediately.

…To build lasting change, it starts from within. From reassessing our partnerships, to working with community leaders committed to societal change, to bringing more Black and athletes of color to our global team to reflect the stories and faces missing today — every action counts.”

The progress: As far as the $50,000 donation, Lauren Guthrie, vice president of global inclusion, diversity, equity and action at VF Corp., told WWD, “That money was donated to the ACLU and we’ve also had other engagements.” And regarding the funds to Outdoor Afro, a longstanding VF partner, and PGM One, she said, “Both things came to fruition.”

Where representation is concerned, VF will release new diversity data in July. But Guthrie did say an increase can be expected.

“Surprisingly, in a year where we haven’t had as much hiring as we would have expected due to the pandemic I’m actually really proud of the progress that we’ve made both towards our aspirational 2030 goals in terms of women representation in leadership as well as BIPOC representation in leadership,” she said, noting the company is on track to hit those goals by 2030 if not before.

“The bigger commitment is around some of the pipeline development work that we’ve also undergone as part of the commitments that we’ve articulated to our council to advance racial equity,” Guthrie continued. “One of those being our partnership with Pensole where we’ve invited 30 students to participate in a masterclass experience from underrepresented backgrounds to address not only the gap that we see for opportunity for further representation within our own business but within industry more broadly, and that program is currently in place. It will actually be a 15-month program with one year of that being a rotational apprenticeship program through four of our brands, and so as we think about our diversity goals over time, we’re looking to do so in a systemic way so certainly validating and doubling down on our partnership from a diversity and career pipeline perspective but also looking at these unique opportunities to grow representation within the industry and also looking at the incredible diversity that we have within our own organization, particularly within our retail and supply chain organizations.”

The claim: “I think the reason why if done well the [representation] numbers move slowly is because we’re not just a diversity platform, we’re an inclusion, diversity and equity platform and the inclusion component of the work is really important,” she said. “We drive towards our goal in a way that is not promoting further discrimination or promoting artificial hiring decisions, we’re doing so systemically by uncovering where bias lives in our process and addressing that directly.”

As for how well Guthrie believes the industry at large is doing on diversity: “I think that the conversations that have been started in the past year show no signs of slowing down I think we have opportunity to continue to come together as an industry with that spirit of coalition or collaborative work to strive toward greater impact. The impact’s not going to happen in a vacuum company by company; the impact is going to happen when you work together to think and work different and I think there have been fantastic seeds planted but certainly more work to do in order to ensure that the progress that we’ve seen over the past year can stand the test of time.”

The Ross Dress For Less in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

The Ross Dress For Less in Port St. Lucie, Florida.  NewsBase/AP

ROSS STORES

U.S. workforce diversity reported in 2020: 28 percent “not people of color,” 72 percent people of color.

U.S. workforce diversity reported in 2021: Ross did not provide WWD any updates for the story.

Key 2020 commitment: “We stand against racial injustice. Ross is committed to listening, learning and taking action. We can and will do better…”

The progress: Ross Stores did not provide detailed insight as to its progress or whether the diversity of its workforce has improved.

The claim: A company spokesperson had this to say in a statement: “Ross Stores remains committed to promoting an inclusive culture that values and celebrates the diversity of backgrounds, identities and ideas of our almost 94,000 associates and those who shop with us. Fostering an inclusive work environment where all associates are treated with dignity and respect is key to our ability to grow, succeed and contribute to the communities where we live and work. We continue to look for ways to further our commitment and over the past year have established employee resource groups and made other investments in recruiting and training, supporting diversity, equality, and inclusion. We recognize that this important work is ongoing and look forward to build on our continued efforts.”

Victoria’s Secret in Paris, France.

Victoria’s Secret in Paris, France.  Abaca Press/AP

VICTORIA’S SECRET (L BRANDS)

U.S. workforce diversity reported in 2020: No data shared on workforce gender or ethnicity representation.

U.S. workforce diversity reported in 2021: L Brands did not share any diversity data with WWD when asked.

Key 2020 commitment: “We pledged to donate at least $1 million to fund the fight against racism and inequality because we believe Black Lives Matter. Today we are announcing our expanding commitment to key community partners the Urban League and YWCA by donating $1 million to their national and Columbus-based affiliates.

…We’ll continue to keep you updated as we progress on this journey.”

The progress: According to a company spokesperson, “We are establishing inclusion councils to ensure our commitments and our work are aligned, and that we’re holding ourselves accountable. We are identifying and changing existing practices and policies to ensure equity in sourcing and hiring, development and career growth opportunities for all associates, as well as examining our supplier partnerships to support and engage underrepresented companies and vendors. We’ve also taken steps within our product and marketing pipelines to reach broader audiences and be more inclusive brands.”

L Brands said it has increased its investment in organizations “that fund the fight against racism and inequality,” including expanding its commitment to the National Urban League and YWCA by donating $1 million in 2020. The company also said it has established a partnership with Asian Americans Advancing Justice and donated $100,000 to “advance our shared commitment of racial equity in AAPI communities.” In support of the LGBTQ community, L Brands is donating $2.1 million to organizations including Human Rights Campaign Foundation, The Point Foundation and Campus Pride.

The claim: “We know that our commitments are just a starting place,” the company said. “We have a lot of work to do. Our board of directors and executive leadership team are clear that we want to do this right…and that will take hard conversations, time and dedicated effort.” 

Kohl's store in North Andover, Mass.

Kohl’s store in North Andover, Mass.  Elise Amendola/AP

KOHL’S CORP.

U.S. workforce diversity reported in 2020: No data shared on workforce gender or ethnicity representation.

U.S. workforce diversity reported in 2021: No data shared on workforce gender or ethnicity representation.

Key 2020 commitment: “Kohl’s is committed to serving and celebrating all families. 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. 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.”

The progress: In its 2020 ESG Report, Kohl’s said, “In 2020, we made a Pledge for Progress, which outlines how we’ll take action to deliver meaningful change for the good of Our People, Our Customers and Our Community. We invested more than $13.5 million toward these plans in 2020.”

Those plans include increasing diversity across the Kohl’s associate population, which the company intends to do by “formally reviewing the composition of leadership on a quarterly basis and taking action to drive significant change,” and “offering new development, mentorship and sponsorship opportunities for underrepresented talent across our organization.” The company said it will also expand its talent attraction practices by partnering with Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities and through “building relationships with Black and Hispanic professional associations.”

The claim: Kohl’s declined to participate in the story, saying, “we are unable to grant an interview at this time.” 

Ralph Lauren store on New York's Upper East Side.

Ralph Lauren store on New York’s Upper East Side.  KATHY WILLENS/AP

RALPH LAUREN CORP.

U.S. workforce diversity reported in 2020: 39 percent white, 23 percent Black, 23 percent Latine, 8 percent Asian, 3 percent two or more races, 1 percent Native, 3 percent not identified

U.S. workforce diversity reported in 2021: 38 percent white, 24 percent Black, 23 percent Latine, 8 percent Asian, 3 percent two or more races, 1 percent Native, 3 percent not identified

Key 2020 commitment: “To start this process of meaningful change, we are expanding our existing multicultural D&I group, ‘Mosaic,’ established last year by creating an Advisory Group with a focus on amplifying Black and African American voices inside our company. This group will be at the table as our additional initiatives are put into action — empowered to directly advise our Executive Leadership Team as we build a culture that reflects our values for everyone.

…We will continue to disclose the racial and ethnic makeup of our employee base. We commit to elevating more Black and African American talent into our leadership ranks. For every open role at the vice president level or above, we will interview at least one Black or African American candidate as well as at least one candidate from other underrepresented groups.

…We will build a set of diversity expectations for our partners and vendors, as we have already begun to do in the area of sustainability.”

The progress: Ralph Lauren has created its Advisory Councils who it says “are empowered to directly advise our Executive Leadership Team.”

In the last year, company chief people officer and head of the Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation Roseann Lynch told WWD there has been a deepened commitment to diversity.

“In our recently released 2021 Global Citizenship and Sustainability Report we announced that from fiscal 2022 onward, [diversity] will be tied to executive remuneration as a key component of our environmental, social and governance work. We also have an established goal of having at least 20 percent of the Global Leadership Team represented by underrepresented racial and ethnic groups by 2023,” she said.

Ralph Lauren is designating four CEO Action for Racial Equity fellows (internal staff who will temporarily step away from their regular roles) “to create large-scale impact for racial equity and justice by advancing public policy reform at the US local, state and federal levels, full-time.”

The company is also rolling out expanded medical benefits for its part-time employees in the U.S., which will most impact its retail and distribution and fulfillment center populations, where diversity is the highest. 

The claim: “While we are moving forward and making important strides in the process, the reality is the racial biases and inequities that have persisted won’t be laid to rest in one year or two,” Lynch said. “Our goal is to ensure all employees are able to thrive in life and at work. Establishing sustainable business practices and providing our teams with the space to voice concerns, share experiences and perspectives, and celebrate differences is a big part of that goal.”

Macy's flagship store in New York.

Macy’s flagship store in New York.  Bebeto Matthews/AP

MACY’S INC.

U.S. workforce diversity reported in 2020: 40 percent “non-ethnically diverse,” 60 percent “ethnically diverse”

U.S. workforce diversity reported in 2021: 38 percent white, 21 percent Black, 24 percent Latine, 10 percent Asian, 5 percent two or more races, 2 percent Native

Key 2020 commitment: “Today [June 7, 2020] we are committing $1 million in support of organizations combating social and racial injustice, and will continue our work to ensure equity within all aspects of our organization.

[From Macy’s 2018 Corporate Sustainability Report]: “Achieve more ethnic diversity by 2025 at senior director level and above, with a goal of 30 percent.”

The progress: “We’re making a difference inside and outside our company — from taking a leadership role in driving systemic change through CEO Action for Racial Equity Task Force and dedicating more than $1 million in grants to organizations that advocate for and defend social justice and racial equality to establishing a Retail Diversity Committee, a group of colleagues who develop and execute the overarching strategy to support the advancement of diverse- and women-owned brands,” Macy’s chief diversity officer Shawn Outler told WWD.

In its Human Capital Report released in April, Macy’s said, “We have taken steps to increase representation at the senior director level and above. There is still much more work to do to achieve our goals. We are currently at 24 percent ethnic diversity at the senior director level and above with the goal to reach 25 percent in 2021 and 30 percent by 2025.”

The claim: “We are proud of the work we’ve done over the last 10 years to become a more inclusive organization and continue to challenge ourselves to do more,” Outler said. “We put a stake in the ground by developing actionable goals and metrics that have set us on a clear path to be a true beacon of change.”

Levi's 501

Levi’s 501  Hubert Link/AP

LEVI STRAUSS & CO.

U.S. workforce diversity reported in 2020: 37 percent white, 18 percent Black, 28 percent Latine, 10 percent Asian, 3 percent two or more races, 2 percent Native, 2 percent not specified

U.S. workforce diversity reported in 2021: 39 percent white, 17 percent Black, 28 percent Latine, 10 percent Asian, 5 percent “other BIPOC,” 2 percent not specified

Key 2020 commitment: “We will work until the racial makeup of our U.S. corporate employees and our leadership at least match that of the United States. We pledge to improve the Black and Latinx representation numbers every year as we work toward that goal. We’re launching a number of initiatives today to help us reach our goal:

We will hire an executive-level Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging in 2020 to lead our efforts to create a more diverse and equitable company and culture.

Starting this year, half of the interviewees for open positions will be racially diverse candidates and we will ensure that they are interviewed by a panel including racially diverse leaders.

In 2021, we will launch a Retail/Distribution Center to Corporate career path program to nurture and promote the incredible, diverse talent that already exists throughout our company.”

The progress: “I think that we are making fantastic progress,” said Elizabeth A. Morrison, who was hired in accordance with last year’s commitment as Levi Strauss & Co.’s chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer. “Setting up and focusing on our infrastructure is critically important.…In March I rolled out a holistic multiyear strategy designed to put sustainable solutions in place, this is not going to be a quick fix. Within my strategy I embedded our diversity and maturity model so that I could intelligently and honestly talk to my executives and my employees about the journey that we’re going to go on from declaring our intentions to committing the resources and the core teams, to building that strategy, to rolling out programs, to measuring progress and the evolution that will happen in light and in response to those efforts.

“We’ve also published our representation data publicly in the middle of 2020 and then again in February of 2021 that will be our annual cadence, we are really being willing to hold ourselves accountable and take the tough questions. That’s really important.

“Twice a month we have an all employee town hall that’s called ‘Chips and Beer’ led by Chip Bergh our CEO, and he takes all the questions from our employees and answers them honestly, saying where we are and where we’re not, but that we’re committed.

“…We are working to launch a career development pipeline program from retail to corporate. It’s going to be branded Indigrow and that’s going to launch later this year.”

The claim: “The [ethnicity representation] numbers that you’ll see, you’ll literally see kind of minuscule changes from middle of 2020 to end of 2020,” Morrison said. “It was such an unprecedented year on so many levels — there was a major hiring slowdown, we weren’t hiring at our normal rate, which I don’t think anybody was during that year and so it’s hard to benchmark. I think for us the next few years will be more telling but I can’t stress enough how much we are focused on building the infrastructure capabilities and the competencies…of course we need to hire and build our pipeline of diverse talent but we also need to develop and retain the talent we have.” 

Nordstrom in Indianapolis.

Nordstrom in Indianapolis.  Darron Cummings/AP

NORDSTROM INC.

U.S. workforce diversity reported in 2020: 41 percent white, 19 percent Black, 23 percent Latine, 11 percent Asian, 6 percent not identified

U.S. workforce diversity reported in 2021: Nordstrom was unable to provide updated data on its representation but said the information will be part of its 2020 annual report slated for release “later this summer.”

Key 2020 commitment: “…We’ve made corporate grants to the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund as well as to the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation. We encourage our employees to give and will match their donations to nonprofits working to address these issues.

“We have a goal to increase the diversity of our teams to reflect the diversity we see across North America, and we have new programs in place to help us get there. We’re actively reviewing all of our hiring practices and processes, including how we recruit, interview, hire, onboard and promote. As part of this work, we’re introducing a new Inclusive Hiring training that gives our recruiting teams and hiring managers the education and resources they need to find and select diverse candidates, free from bias. We’re also focused on building our managers’ ability to understand how bias works and how they can minimize the impact it has in making decisions about their teams.”

The progress: The latest statement on Nordstrom’s diversity press page says: “Our diversity, inclusion and belonging strategy is focused on four pillars — Talent, Culture, Marketplace and Leadership. Over the past several years, we’ve amplified our DIB efforts.

“To lead this work and drive accountability, we created the Nordstrom Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Action Council. This forum, cochaired by Pete Nordstrom, Erik Nordstrom and our chief human resources officer, is made up of a diverse mix of leaders from across our company and our board of directors. The council is responsible for developing, implementing and measuring company-wide programs that drive our strategy.”

The claim: Nordstrom did tell WWD the grants promised in 2020 have been given. 

An Old Navy in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

An Old Navy in Port St. Lucie, Florida.  NewsBase/AP

OLD NAVY (GAP INC.)

U.S. workforce diversity reported in 2020: 54 percent white, 4 percent Black, 10 percent Latine, 27 percent Asian, 5 percent “other minority”

U.S. workforce diversity reported in 2021: Gap did not provide WWD an update on its representation numbers.

Key 2020 commitment: “…We are committed to doubling the representation of Black and Latinx employees at all levels in our US HQ offices, doubling the representation of our Black and Latinx employees in functions that make and market our products, and increasing Black representation in store leader roles by 50 percent by 2025, because our teams should look like the communities we serve.”

The progress: Gap did not provide WWD an update on its commitments but said “We will be providing an update to our commitments at the end of this month.”

Under Armour store in Lakewood, Colo.

Under Armour store in Lakewood, Colo.  David Zalubowski/AP

UNDER ARMOUR INC.

U.S. workforce diversity reported in 2020: 71 percent white, 11 percent Black, 7 percent Latine, 7 percent Asian, 3 percent two or more races, 1 percent Native (*reflects corporate)

U.S. workforce diversity reported in 2021: 50 percent white, 17 percent Black, 21 percent Latine, 7 percent Asian, 4 percent two or more races, 1 percent Native (*reflects total workforce)

“…We are committed to driving the actions that are necessary to improve our workforce diversity — specifically at management and leadership levels of the organization — through the following:

• Amplification of our recruiting efforts to improve the representation of historically underrepresented groups in our corporate locations, particular at the Director and above levels

• Increased funding to support the professional development of our historically underrepresented groups with a focus on career advancement

• Enhanced accountability measures for leaders to hire, retain and advance historically underrepresented groups

• Accelerated education for all teammates on creating inclusive cultures, supporting anti-racism and being an effective ally,” said Patrik Frisk, president and CEO.

The progress: Under Armour pointed WWD to the diversity content on its website, where it says: “In addition to our existing commitment to 30 percent director and above positions filled by BIPOC, we are now committing to 12 percent filled by Black talent by 2023. We are currently at 22 percent and 8 percent, respectively.

“We are committing to 30 percent of executive team succession slates filled by BIPOC, with 12 percent filled by Black talent, by 2023. We are currently at 22 percent and 11 percent, respectively.

“We are increasing our commitment of tying annual incentive pay for executives to the achievement of our accelerated diversity and inclusion goals.

“We are tripling our investment in professional development for our historically underrepresented teammates to improve retention and advancement.

“We are doubling our investment in sourcing historically underrepresented talent with an increased focus on HBCUs, HSIs and other organizations that support BIPOC. This includes our Sports Marketing roster and Rookie internship program.

“We are committed to publishing our representation statistics externally annually to hold ourselves accountable to our goals.”

The claim: “Though we’ve had a diversity and inclusion strategy for years, we held ourselves accountable to more action after the global outcry for justice in 2020,” the company’s website reads. “We accelerated our diversity, equity, and inclusion approach by making bold commitments for each of our strategic pillars. Under Armour has a responsibility to build an equitable workplace for our teammates and to support the communities where we live and work. We are now reflecting on our journey to fulfill our vision. We aren’t yet where we want to be, but we remain committed to our focus. We have positive momentum in our push for a more diverse, equal and inclusive Under Armour.”

Michael Kors storefront in Rockefeller Center in New York.

Michael Kors storefront in Rockefeller Center in New York.  NewsBase/AP

MICHAEL KORS (CAPRI HOLDINGS LTD.)

U.S. workforce diversity reported in 2020: 40 percent white, 10 percent Black, 32 percent Latine, 12 percent Asian, 4 percent two or more races, 2 percent Native

U.S. workforce diversity reported in 2021: Capri Holdings told WWD, We have not yet published updated employee demographics but intend to do so before the end of the year.”

Key 2020 commitment: “Together with Capri Holdings, our parent company, we are donating to the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, America’s premier legal organization fighting for racial justice.

“Additionally, we intend to contribute to other social justice, legal and educational organizations to support diversity and inclusion for the future. We look forward to updating you on our progress.”

The progress: “Capri Holdings pledged $20 million to The Capri Holdings Foundation for the Advancement of Diversity in Fashion,” Daniel Purefoy, senior vice president of global operations and head of diversity and inclusion at Capri Holdings, told WWD. Purefoy was appointed as part of the company’s 2020 commitments. “The foundation will work collaboratively with colleges and high schools to create meaningful opportunities in fashion for underrepresented communities. Through the development of on-campus recruitment, mentorship and scholarship programs, the foundation looks to underpin the next generation of talent and to prepare students for successful careers in the fashion industry.”

The claim: “We previously shared our employee demographic data last year, and we are proud of the diversity in our workforce. We recognize that there is more to do to promote diversity, particularly at the senior leadership level. We remain committed to focusing on diverse talent acquisition across every function and region,” Purefoy said, noting additionally, “We continue to be a leader for diversity in the boardroom where 25 percent of Capri Holding’s board of directors are people of color and 62.5 percent are female.” 

PVH Corporation in McDonough, Georgia.

PVH Corporation in McDonough, Georgia.  TRIPPLAAR KRISTOFFER/SIPA/AP

PVH CORP. (TOMMY HILFIGER, CALVIN KLEIN)

U.S. workforce diversity reported in 2020: 39 percent white, 15 percent Black, 32 percent Latine, 9 percent Asian, 3 percent two or more races, 2 percent Native

U.S. workforce diversity reported in 2021: 40 percent white, 15 percent Black, 31 percent Latine, 9 percent Asian, 5 percent “other,” 1 percent not declared

Key 2020 commitment: “The PVH Foundation will be making a donation to organizations that support the fight against social injustice. We will continue to work toward creating an environment and society where we are stronger together.”

The progress: “People have shared with me how much they have seen happen at PVH over the last year,” Lance LaVergne, chief diversity officer and senior vice president of global talent acquisition and associate experience at PVH Corp., told WWD. “The level of engagement has been fantastic and not just here we’re seeing the same thing in Europe and in Asia, Australia, it’s actually been pretty amazing to see the global impact that the activities in the united states have generated.”

PVH has launched a series of employee resource groups and reestablished the global inclusion and diversity council it first started up in 2014.

“In November we reconstituted that committee, Stefan Larsson who was the president and is now CEO, chairs that committee. It’s comprised of senior leaders across all of our businesses and regions with a handful of other people to provide some additional voices but that’s the body that will really review assess and guide all of our inclusion and diversity activities and strategies, metrics and accountability. So having that in place is a huge step forward.

“We are committing an extra 10 million over the next four years to really help increase awareness of opportunities in fashion and then access to those opportunities in communities that are underrepresented,” LaVergne said. “The fact that we are committing dollars to this work in and of itself is an important step forward for PVH.”

The claim: “2020 was an incredibly disruptive year for all organizations, but what I would say is that I think we are making good progress in terms of our representation numbers,” LaVergne said. “Our gender numbers have improved, we’re making progress in our racial and ethnic diversity but as you’ll see from our commitments we’ve also established targets on where we’re hoping to go with that representation [gender parity globally in all leadership positions at the senior vice president level and above by 2026; Increase total BIPOC representation at senior vice president level and above by 50 percent and double Black and Hispanic/Latinx representation at director and vice president levels in the U.S. by 2026]. “We’ve always had great gender representation, so the focus will be on the most senior levels of our organization and the representation of women in those roles across the globe. When we look at our population in the United States where we have an opportunity to be more specific around racial and ethnic diversity, Asian representation [is] actually quite strong [at the] individual contributor, manager, director [levels]. It’s at the vice president level where we start to see opportunities there. Hispanic representation, quite strong, starts to decline at the director level and above, similarly for Black representation. So our goal, as you’ll see in our commitment, is to focus on those areas and increase those specific opportunities of representation.

“…We’re making good incremental progress, some good momentum behind us, but clearly have objectives and targets set for us as we move forward over the next five years.”

Sketchers in Cabazon, California.

Sketchers in Cabazon, California.  John Green/AP

SKECHERS

U.S. Workforce Diversity Reported in 2020: Skechers did not share any data about workforce representation by ethnicity or gender in 2020.

U.S. Workforce Diversity Reported in 2021: Skechers declined to share any data about workforce representation by ethnicity or gender with WWD.

Key 2020 commitment: “Change only comes when we stand together. End racial injustice.”

The progress: “In support of building shared understanding, Skechers is honoring Juneteenth by giving our corporate employees paid time off to celebrate and to reflect on the significance of the holiday,” Marcee Mackey, the company’s vice president of human resources, told WWD in a statement. “We hope that many members of our team will use the time for community service while learning, listening and striving to be better together.”

The claim: “Skechers takes pride in our talented and diverse team, and we’re always working to ensure that as our team grows, it represents our consumers and the communities in which we operate,” Mackey said. “We believe that diversity and respect for the race, culture, religion and sexual orientation of all will make us stronger as a community, as an organization, and as individuals.”

New Balance store on Oxford Street, central London.

New Balance store on Oxford Street, central London.  Yui Mok/AP

NEW BALANCE

U.S. workforce diversity reported in 2020: As a private company, New Balance does not publicly disclose workforce representation data.

U.S. workforce diversity reported in 2021: “While we do not publicly disclose workforce data, we have done a comprehensive analysis to inform our priority focus areas, specifically around investments in new talent acquisition channels and associate development programs in all departments of the business,” the company told WWD.

Key 2020 commitment: “Today [May 30, 2020], we’re finding a voice to advocate on issues about which we cannot be silent. No one should live with the fear and perpetual injustice faced daily by communities of color across the United States and around the world. We stand with our entire roster of athletes, ambassadors, and all of our global associates in demanding justice for the wrongful death of George Floyd and far too many others. We’re asking that our partners and community engage with not just words, but peaceful action. To start, join us in supporting the petition for justice for George Floyd.”

“Today [6/3/20], running takes on a new meaning for the global community. When you go out for a run today to train, to better yourself, or just to clear your head, join us in saying his name: AHMAUD ARBERY. No one in the Black community should ever fear for their lives while running. In Ahmaud Arbery’s name, we will be donating 10,000 pairs of running shoes to Black community-based programs in the Atlanta area.”

The progress: “Diversity, equity and inclusion have long been a part of our cultural fabric,” New Balance chief human resource officer Joan McGrail told WWD. “We’ve taken a number of steps to advance our DE&I journey, including establishing a DE&I leadership working group, investing in new talent acquisition channels and associate development programs, launching unconscious bias training, and enhancing our alliances that support advancement for underrepresented groups, among other things. We continue to make progress on our priority areas: Education and Awareness, Talent Sourcing and Associate Growth, Culture and Engagement, and Leading with Data.”

The claim: “We believe that collectively we have a responsibility to make a difference. Our focus remains on connecting the energy and passion of our associates with our global resources to support and uplift our communities,” the company said. “As we continue to challenge convention, we remain fearlessly committed to doing the necessary work and using our platform to create meaningful and sustainable change.”

Burlington store in The Atlantic Center Shopping Mall in Brooklyn, NY.

Burlington store in The Atlantic Center Shopping Mall in Brooklyn, NY.  zz/STRF/STAR MAX/IPx/AP

BURLINGTON

U.S. workforce diversity reported in 2020: 71 percent of associates self-identify as having a racial or ethnic minority background.

U.S. workforce diversity reported in 2021: Burlington has not provided updates or further breakdowns to representation reported last year.

Key 2020 commitment: “Our associates, customers, and communities represent a widely diverse culture. This diversity makes the events of the past week that much more difficult for us all, as well as for me as a leader. As a member of the Burlington team, I’d like to reaffirm our commitment to embracing inclusivity, and being part of the struggle for fairness and equality for all.

…We don’t have all the answers. But we’re committed to work together, both within our company and within the broader community, to move our world closer to unity, understanding, and inclusivity,” said Michael O’Sullivan, Burlington’s CEO.

The progress: Burlington declined to provide WWD with updates for the story, but said its 2020 Corporate Social Responsibility Report would be “available later this summer.”