For the 20th year in a row, Nordstrom Inc. made the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For list — just one of 12 firms to do so, and the only one in the fashion apparel segment.
Nordstrom was number 94 on the 2017 list, which is in its 20th year and appears in the March 15 issue. The criteria for making the list is based “on employee ratings of their workplace culture, including the level of trust they feel toward leaders, the pride they take in their jobs and the camaraderie they experience with coworkers,” noted the consulting firm Great Place to Work.
Michael C. Bush, chief executive officer of Great Place to Work, applauded the retailer for achieving a “work legend” status. “Nordstrom has done the hard work of creating, maintaining and improving a culture that puts people at the center,” Bush said. “And they have reaped the business advantages that come with high-trust workplace relationships.”
In coming up with the list, Fortune magazine partners with Great Place to Work to collect feedback from more than 232,000 employees at certified companies that employ more than 1,000 people.
At a 2014 Great Place to Work conference, Blake Nordstrom, copresident and director, focused his presentation on the retailer’s “culture of empowerment,” where “each individual at the company feels like it’s their name on the door.”
In the Great Place to Work report on the retailer, researchers at the firm said Nordstrom employees “are deeply rooted in their history and the legacy of their founders, who started the company in 1901 in Seattle. Their servant leadership philosophy and inverted triangle corporate structure helps keep the focus on their frontline people who are serving customers.”
Subsequently, the authors described Nordstrom’s level of customer service as legendary. “Fundamentally, Nordstrom consistently shows its respect for its people, relying on their judgement and entrepreneurship to drive the company’s collective success and employees’ personal success,” the researchers said. “Their operating philosophy is summarized in their one-line employee handbook, which states, ‘Use good judgment in all situations.’ This trust and employee-centered focus sets Nordstrom apart in the retail industry and others and drives their culture today.”
The ratings and consulting firm also noted in its report on the retailer that Nordstrom creates an inclusive environment. In a Trust Index anonymous survey conducted by Great Place to Work, one employee said there is “a morning rally [at Nordstrom’s] where we celebrate the success of every individual, no matter what your background is. New people quickly become valuable team members, gaining experience and confidence. I am inspired daily by my coworkers and management to make a difference, and to accomplish more.”
Great Place to Work also noted that Nordstrom’s managers and leaders are committed to promoting employees from within the organization, and that it targets Millennials “through internship programs and a special program called the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative that focuses on providing internships to underprivileged youth to give them experience in a corporate environment.”
Other programs include formal and informal training as well as “e-learning” opportunities. “People are given the chance to stretch themselves by taking on leadership roles in new store openings or within the entrepreneurial Rack business unit,” Great Place to Work researchers said.