Onyx is a rare gemstone that beams bold, black, and beautiful. It is also the name of one of the largest Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) at Macy’s, Inc. “ONYX,” all-caps and bolded, engages the talent and retention of black employees at Macy’s. It is committed to excellence in professional development, give back, employee experience, and driving business results.
It has grown tremendously through the years, from a small group to hundreds of national members. To date, ONYX has successfully fostered both the personalized intimacy of conversation spaces and broader, cultural emphasis on diversity and inclusion in the corporate workplace. ONYX already shines, but for Black History Month Coast to Coast is aiming the spotlight on the story of this truly transformational ERG.
The group originally stemmed out of two, New York-based ERGs: ONYX and BuiLD (Blacks United in Leadership and Development). The two groups eventually combined, and in 2016 ONYX fully united to become a national presence. “We felt it was important to be omni and speak in one voice,” said Sherieka Smallwood-Morgan, director of multicultural business development at Macy’s, Inc. “Not only have we unified as one voice in New York Central, but we have also developed one voice nationally with the collaboration among all ONYX chapters in Macy’s Atlanta, Cincinnati and San Francisco corporate locations.”
ONYX is important to the fabric of Macy’s corporate culture. “We have an opportunity to bring diverse perspectives together and unite in some common understandings,” said Rory Scott, associate product manager for macys.com in San Francisco and co-leader of the San Francisco macys.com chapter of ONYX. Branches across the country articulate this mission through different activities including: Atlanta’s Let’s Talk about It meetings, New York’s ONYX Quarterly Speaker Series and Friends @ Work Mentorship program, Cincinnati’s promotional video on ONYX, and San Francisco’s Coffee and Conversation.
Kia Jones, product manager for center core at Macy’s Merchandising Group, has been a co-leader of ONYX for the past six years and describes her role with ONYX as transformational to herself and others. “It helps to improve employee engagement across the entire company,” said Jones.
In celebration of Black History Month, ONYX is hosting events across the nation. A highlight of just a few events includes: a speaker series with New York Public Library General Counsel and Secretary Michele Coleman Mayes, “Trailblazers within the Black Community” presentation with NY Urban League Young Professionals, Black Fashion Designers at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum and a Black Heritage Cuisine event in New York. ONYX in Cincinnati MCCS will offer a weekly African American dining menu, Lunch-n-Learn featuring spoken word readings and career workshops, raffles, performances and African American vendors on-site. In Atlanta, ONYX will host a career panel discussion with senior black leaders at Macy’s and a Lunch-n-Learn on diversity and inclusion. ONYX San Francisco brings a critical lens to the issues of the day with the “Implicit Bias” series, an ongoing conversation throughout Black History Month examining issues of gentrification, implicit bias, representation and voice within the black community.
“If you look at the meaning of the word ‘onyx,’ it is a rare stone that permeates beauty,” explains Jones. “This is what ONYX represents to me; a body of people all unique, radiating beauty and building each other up.”
Ultimately, onyx is a gemstone that creates the luminous power of reflection. At Macy’s, Inc., we are thankful for the beautiful, united and inspiring presence of this unique group.