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How Macy’s is strengthening its commitment to developing its 90,000 employees

Among the many new conditions facing HR leaders today, there’s one that’s undeniable across industries: employee expectations in 2022 are vastly different than they were a few years ago. barely. As the pandemic has prompted employees to reconsider what work means to them, and the labor market has enabled them to pursue this reality, employers are improving their employee value propositions to meet these expectations.

At Macy’s, Inc., which has more than 90,000 employees worldwide, this process has emphasized the professional development of employees. Among its recent initiatives, Macy’s has rolled out a partnership with Guild Education to provide free online and in-person courses for professional degrees and certifications to all colleagues, said Danielle Kirgan, executive vice president, chief transformation officer and company human resources. This program goes hand in hand with other efforts like a minimum wage and company-wide compensation increase, as well as a multi-year growth and development initiative called Own Your Career, which connects colleagues with comprehensive resources to take their careers to the next level.

Kirgan — who assumed the role of CHRO in 2017 after a career in HR that included leadership roles at American Airlines, Darden and more — will detail these and other steps Macy’s is taking to attract and retain talent during of the opening session of Women in HR Tech, which kicks off the first day of the HR Technology Conference, September 13-16 in Las Vegas. Prior to the conference, she spoke with HRE on Macy’s investment in its people.

HRE: How has Macy’s sought to increase investment in workforce development in recent years?

Danielle Kirgan

Entered by: At Macy’s, Inc., we’re on a mission to create a brighter future with bold representation for all. We call it Mission Every One, our social purpose platform. Combined with our ambition to be retail’s preferred employer, we believe that if we can put ourselves fully to work, it will result in a richer and wider array of ideas and energy that all can benefit.

We know that every colleague’s career path is unique and that’s why we have a personalized approach when it comes to investing in each individual to create career growth, pride and satisfaction. We are so passionate about this idea that we recently launched a new value proposition for colleagues: Bring your amazing personality to work. Along with investing in our talent, our success will depend on the collaboration of great people. We actively listen to our colleagues and combine their feedback with industry insights and competitive benchmarking to make long-term investments so individuals can achieve their professional and financial goals.

HRE: How has the pandemic shaped these approaches?

Entered by: The health and safety of our colleagues is always at the center of our decisions. At Macy’s, Inc., the transformation office is tightly integrated with HR, largely because they’re both located in the same pyramid. That’s why when COVID-19 hit, we were uniquely positioned to quickly assess and transform the business, including moving to a flexible work environment.

We maintained the hybrid work model, tailored by colleague and role, which combines remote and in-office options to meet the needs of our people and teams without losing momentum on our work and business priorities. This flexibility has been a win for our business.

It was important to us that our flexible working approach extends beyond our offices. We leveraged technology and the concept of flexibility to offer free virtual stylists so our in-store colleagues could connect with customers across the country. We also launched an innovative sales model that gives our colleagues the opportunity to work across departments, allowing them to stay close to our customers while branching out to meet buying needs across all areas of the store.

HRE: And what return have you seen in terms of recruitment and retention?

Entered by: We are already seeing a noticeable change in talent acquisition and retention through investments in the professional growth of our colleagues. The majority of open professional positions at Macy’s, Inc., from entry level through SVP+, were filled by internal candidates this fiscal year.

HRE: Given the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on working women, what targeted efforts has Macy’s undertaken to retain female talent or re-hire women who have left the workforce in the past 2.5 last years ?

Entered by: Over the past 10 years, we have focused on improving gender diversity at all levels of our organization. As a company, we believe that pay equity is fundamental to our culture and our diversity, equity and inclusion strategy. As a result, feminization remains a strength, starting with our Board of Directors which is at nearly 50%. Last year, Macy’s Inc. achieved more than 99% gender and racial pay equity and is committed to investing each year to maintain its balance sheet.

We are grateful that through our continued efforts, we have not been impacted by this trend over the past 2.5 years. As a result, before and throughout the pandemic, more than 70% of our overall workforce and 60% of our senior and senior manager population are women.

HRE: In which areas do you see the most opportunity for technology to shape future talent management strategies?

Entered by: Technology has been a driving force in transforming our future talent strategy.

We are always looking for new and innovative ways to connect meaningfully with our people. Technology has allowed us to build and strengthen our connections with each other, whether it’s inviting all of our staff to connect with other members of the organization or to resources and support to discover ways to advance their careers, as part of our career. Expo or recently launched software that allows our call center colleagues to better connect and interact with customers. Enabling our colleagues to upgrade and develop themselves has always been a priority, which is why, in addition to our partnership with the Guild, we offer a range of technology options to enhance growth and development of our colleagues.

HRE: You added the title of “Chief Transformation Officer” a few years ago. What kind of mindset change did it take on your part to expand your role in this way?

Entered by: Being part of a changing organization isn’t for everyone – it’s challenging, but it’s also exciting. Deep down inside, I’m passionate about how businesses work. I discovered that unlocking business transformation is all about human capital. To get the optimal result, you need to pair the strategy with the best team working in concert with each other.

As part of our Polaris strategy, announced in February 2020, my role has expanded to include transformation. Having one eye on the transformation and the other on our colleagues gives me the clarity and access to feedback I need to ensure we have an actionable strategy in place and that we are all on the same page and responsible.

HRE: Given that you speak to Women in HR Tech, do you have any unconventional advice from your own professional background for women looking to succeed in HR leadership?

Entered by: Regardless of your background, to be successful as an HR leader, you must understand your business in a deep and meaningful way so that you are fully equipped to have a meaningful impact on your organization. My advice is to take a course, meet leaders, and generally be curious about business strategies, measures of success, and the challenges your organization and leaders face.

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