WAM Spotlight: Our Strength Is Our History

We couldn’t think of a better time to shine a light on this particular Macy’s Employee Resource Group (ERG) than during Women’s History Month. Coast to Coast is excited to spotlight Women at Macy’s, or as they call themselves, WAM.

Inspired by Macy’s commitment to building a culture where women thrive, Women at Macy's (WAM) empowers our female employees to reach their full leadership potential and provides professional development and leadership opportunities for women at all levels. According to WAM, “Our strength is our history!”

And what a strong piece of history that is.

“Be everywhere, do everything, and never fail to astonish the customer,” are the famous words of Margaret Swain Getchell, Macy’s and America’s first female executive. When the 19-year-old schoolteacher joined Macy’s in 1861, the store was selling fabrics, ribbons and lace. Innovative and agile, her approach to sales and proficiency with numbers impressed Mr. Macy. Despite the societal norms of the time, he decided to invest in her talent. Under her leadership, Macy’s tripled in size and grew annual sales to $1 million in 1869.

Getchell was the original “WAM,” providing strong female leadership at a time when men dominated the industry. We can guess that she would get a kick out of how far this ERG has come since its beginning and what current members have to share about the group’s impact.

Similar to other ERGs at Macy’s, WAM is an employee-led, company-sponsored group. The group first started in Macy’s New York City offices in 2010, and has since grown to include chapters in Cincinnati, San Francisco, and Atlanta. Its presence in Macy’s locations nationwide connects a community of women who are diverse, inclusive and strong.

“I believe success can and should be as diverse as our population, and I want to create an environment that advocates for and nurtures that success,” said Joanne Engle, group vice president of financial planning and analysis at Macy’s. The group’s focus on nurturing professional success also resounds with Sara Garrigan, omni merchandise planner at Macy’s and co-leader of WAM in New York City. “WAM is a remarkable opportunity to meet incredible, leading women at Macy’s, as well as ambitious new Macy’s employees” Garrigan shared.

Although WAM is a group dedicated to empowering women, it’s also a group that is dedicated to inclusion in general, which is why one of its members thinks this mission isn’t exclusively for females. “I am passionate about WAM because I want to empower both women and men to join the conversation about gender parity,” said Jennifer Li, senior product manager at macys.com and WAM co-leader in San Francisco. WAM’s dedication to inclusion is a commitment that Macy’s takes seriously as a company. It is integral to success. “Being a part of WAM made me realize how culture can truly impact our company in such a positive way,” added Garrigan.

The group empowers women across all business functions to reach their full leadership potential. It covers specific topics of interest across various fields and also provides a network of personal support. “As a female in technology, I have a strong connection to the WAM mission of uniting both the women in technology and spreading overall awareness of the importance of women-specific topics,” said Sahar Sadeghian, senior producer for digital technology enhancements at macys.com in San Francisco. “WAM has created a sense of community for me and has facilitated relationship-building and support in each other's careers, a progression in helping to move the needle forward.”

Although Women’s History Month is nationally observed during the month of March, inclusion is a year-round cause for celebration at Macy’s.

We can proudly state that women are celebrated year-round and every day at Macy’s. Iconic and innovative, we are proud to shine this spotlight on WAM. The group exemplifies our commitment to the continued dedication that marks not only our history, but our success for the future.