Deckers CEO Breaks Down Why Leaders Should Choose Courage Over Comfort When It Comes to Diversity

When it comes to the subject of diversity at Deckers Brands, CEO Dave Powers believes in choosing courage over comfort.

The leader took the stage at the FN CEO Summit in Miami today to deliver a presentation on the subject — which has become a critical issue for the footwear industry in recent years — and how his firm is finding the way forward by not shying away from the conversation.

Powers said a key turning point for Deckers — parent of Ugg, Hoka One One and Teva — came around 2017 when the firm made diversity and inclusion a strategic priority.

“A couple years ago, we put this into our corporate responsibility report, and we said it’s time for us to put a stake in the ground with some goals around diversity and inclusion,” he explained. “So we publicly stated that one of our long-term goals is to promote diversity, gender equality, female empowerment and inclusion for all.”

The public statement, Deckers’ chief noted, made it clear to the company’s employees that the company valued diversity, and “it made it so that we had to hold ourselves accountable as a leadership team.”

“When you work at Deckers, you shouldn’t have to change how you behave, how you act and how you dress when you come to the door,” he told summit attendees of his philosophy. “You should be your best natural self because that’s how were going to get the best out of you from a productivity, work and collaboration perspective. But that’s also how you’re going to thrive in your career and life.”

Among the programs and initiatives the company has created around the pillar, Powers said he recently took a note from a Deckers’ staffer — and member of the LGBTQ community — who requested the firm help create employee resource groups. It has also revamped its marketing to include more minorities and will tap its first transgender inflluencer this year.

Other speakers at the FN CEO Summit include Diane Sullivan, CEO, president and chairman of Caleres Inc., Shawn Outler, Macy’s chief diversity officer and Matt O’Toole, president of Reebok.

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