WAM Kicks Off “Start the Conversation” Series

In January, more than 80 women from across the New York offices – and a few male allies – gathered in the offices above Macy’s Herald Square to join in a difficult but necessary conversation. Hosted by Women at Macy’s, a.k.a. WAM, the employee resource group that seeks to empower, support, and develop women, the event kicked off a series of conversations that will continue to provide a safe space for women to share their experiences and put action behind creating an equal workplace.

The first event in the series, appropriately titled “Start the Conversation,” began with an introduction from Chief Human Resources Officer Danielle Kirgan, who discussed the long overdue media attention surrounding equal pay, sexual harassment, the #MeToo movement, and other pertinent women’s issues.

Our Associates then had the chance to dive deeper into the issues. Attendees broke into more intimate conversations, with every breakout group led by a WAM leader, executive sponsor or HR partner.

Some of our amazing leaders and supporters of WAM were in attendance including:

  • Elisa Garcia, chief legal officer
  • Danielle Kirgan, chief human resources officer
  • Cheryl Heinonen, executive vice president, Corporate Communications
  • Stacy Bowe, executive vice president, Merchandise Marketing
  • Donna Vance, executive vice president, Home, Private Brands
  • Cassandra Jones, senior vice president, Fashion Office
  • Heather Schmidle, group vice president/DMM, Handbags and Accessories
  • Angie Guillaume, group vice president, Men’s & Kids, RTW, Millennial
  • Brenna Garrett, group vice president/DPM, Women’s Shoes
  • Keelin Evans, group vice president/DPM, Handbags and Accessories
  • Holly White, vice president, Merchandising and Digital Strategy, Center Core
  • Betsy Poirier, vice president, Marketing Strategy, Clienteling and Backstage
  • Marti Moore, vice president, Merchandise Marketing, Men’s and Kids

We spoke to WAM leaders to understand what the event meant to them, and what’s in store for the conversation series this year. Check out the interview below.

What did hosting this event mean to you?

Sara Garrigan, omni merchandise planner, Women’s Style-Setter and Freestyle Shoes: As the leaders of WAM, we aim to foster a culture of “women helping women” at Macy’s, and this event was the first step to creating meaningful connections outside of everyone’s normal day-to-day.

What was the most important takeaway from each of your individual groups?

Stefanie Buchanan, buyer, Women’s Shoes: Our work has just begun – we’re excited to be leading the industry with our current initiatives and to be empowering women across the organization to be the decision makers – but many are finding disconnects with vendors and partners outside of the organization that we interact with on a daily basis. How can we at Macy’s share our values and raise the bar for all those across the industry to make sure that everyone has a seat at the table?

How would you like to see “Start the Conversation” evolve moving forward?

Cheryl Berinato, VP, Consumer Insights: Customer Engagement Based on initial feedback, we’ve seen some key topics jump out, such as coaching and workshops around having difficult conversations, work-life integration, and continuing to hear from executives on how they have handled tough situations throughout their careers. How we’ll execute on this is still to be determined, but we have good direction on what people are hungry for!

If you had to choose one thing for people to take away from this conversation, what would it be?

Andrea Dafniotis VP, Design Men’s: I would like each of us to think about how we can coach each other at all levels every day.


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