Building a Best-In-Class D&I Culture at Macy’s, Inc. with Shawn Outler

This fall, we announced the appointment of Shawn Outler to EVP, Chief Diversity Officer. Shawn was previously EVP, Licensed Businesses, Food Services, and Multicultural Initiatives. She has held various roles at Macy’s, leading pricing strategy, Macy’s wedding business and fashion forecasting – all with a strong strategic mindset.

Above all, Shawn has advocated for a Macy’s culture that reflects and celebrates the diversity of the customers and communities we serve.

In her new role, Shawn will work to ensure that diversity and inclusion (D&I) is threaded through all of our efforts as a company, and will serve alongside Jeff Gennette, Macy’s, Inc. Chairman and CEO, as Co-Chair of the Diversity & Inclusion Business Council – a group of leaders from all areas of Macy’s charged with ensuring that D&I work is fully integrated into the business.

We sat down with Shawn as she discussed how D&I influences the entire company culture – from our colleagues, to customers and the community. We learned more about what drives her as she begins to build a best-in-class D&I culture and her plans to engage every colleague at Macy’s, Inc.

What excites you most about assuming your new role?

I’m excited to bring my unique perspective to the role. With a background in merchandising, stores, licensed businesses and food services, I understand how D&I impacts the business from every angle – from our colleagues to our customers.

I am excited to leverage my experience to shape our culture, engage our colleagues and foster sustainable growth of the business, enterprise-wide.

In your opinion, what are the key components of a diverse workplace?

The key components of a diverse workplace are employing, embracing and empowering each colleague to reach their full potential.

What will you focus on as Macy’s new Chief Diversity Officer?

As Chief Diversity Officer, I will focus on embedding D&I into all aspects of our business, with an emphasis on the five key areas below:

  • Building a diverse and inclusive workforce
  • Ensuring a diverse merchandising and supplier base
  • Reflecting the diversity of our customers in our marketing
  • Strengthening our community partnerships
  • Ensuring every customer has a great experience in our stores

What role does diversity play in our Path to Growth strategy? What is the Diversity & Inclusion Business Council’s role in that strategy?

D&I is critical to creating sustainable growth and will play an integral role in our Path to Growth strategy by bridging strategy and culture.

The role of the Diversity & Inclusion Business Council is to ensure that D&I is integrated in all aspects of the business.

What are some milestone moments in your career that have helped to lead you to where you are today?

In 2001, I became the first black divisional merchandise manager at Lord & Taylor.

In 2006, I was recruited by Macy’s and in 2011, in my role as GVP, multicultural business development, I created The Workshop at Macy’s – the first retail vendor development program of its kind geared towards minority and women-owned businesses.

And finally, a new chapter – becoming Executive Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer, at Macy’s, Inc.

What is the most rewarding project you’ve worked on in your career?

Apart from The Workshop at Macy’s, my role as EVP, Licensed Businesses was extremely rewarding. In this role I was charged with identifying areas of opportunity to differentiate us in the marketplace. This resulted in our partnership with Finish Line and the expansion of BCBG.

How do you hope The Workshop at Macy’s will evolve? What would you like it to look like in the future?

Every year, the program has evolved, adding elements like the showcase, pop-up shop, new partners including Facebook and, this year, an e-commerce sitelet. I’d like to see the sitelet grow and become an integral part of our overall growth strategy.

How has your experience as a buyer influenced how you make decisions now?

My experience as a buyer taught to me be strategic, set goals and find innovative ways to drive business.

Photo of Shawn Outler with her family.Who is someone you admire and why?

My parents, who are my guidepost and truly the happiest people I know. They moved to New York City from the south when they were very young and have always demonstrated hard work, integrity and an entrepreneurial spirit. My parents built their own businesses grounded in values, beliefs and putting the family first.

What advice do you have for young professionals looking to build their careers?

Apply the four M’s to your career strategy:

  • Manage your actions with intention.
  • Maintain consistency.
  • Make sure you are flexible.
  • Make your mark by taking on new challenges.

Apply to The Workshop at Macy's today! If you are ready to advance your business to the next phase of growth, then we invite you to learn from, and possibly partner, with us. Based in New York City, our free and exclusive vendor retail development program partners with minority and women-owned businesses to combine their savvy, ideas and artistry with the advice, experience and leadership only Macy’s can provide. Learn more and apply now through Jan. 27, 2019.