How Macy’s Continues to Challenge the Industry With More Diversity & Inclusion Leaps

Macy’s wants to bring more attention to female entrepreneurs.

The department store chain last week announced the launch of SoGifted, a concept shop that features a selection of products from women-helmed small businesses, debuting at seven of its outposts during the holiday shopping season.

The project — remaining in stores through January — was borne out of a partnership with female-led millennial venture capital fund SoGal Ventures. Macy’s said that it had recently acquired a minority stake in the firm, which invests in entrepreneurs across the United States and Asia.

“Our mission is to build a firm that embodies the cultural values that we want to see in the world,” SoGal Ventures co-founder Elizabeth Galbut said in a statement. “With the partnership at Macy’s, we’re taking this a step further and giving in-store shoppers across the country an opportunity to discover and support female-led small business brands, so the next generation of women can be empowered to know that entrepreneurship is within their reach.”

Among the offerings are Neely & Chloe, a fashion-forward accessories range; TomboyX, a size- and gender-inclusive line of undergarments and pajamas; and OK Jewelry, an affordable luxury jewelry line. Events include a “For Women, by Women” panel discussion, beauty and trunk shows as well as a wellness-focused event to ring in the New Year that will be hosted in support of the shops.

The launch comes as Macy’s continues to take aggressive steps to boost diversity and inclusion across its ranks, among consumers and with external stakeholders.

Last year, the company named its first chief diversity officer, Shawn Outler — a role that preceded several other fashion firms’ appointments of CDOs. It also announced in September an overhaul of its “Customer Bill of Rights”; a requirement for 50% representation of gender or gender identity, ethnicity, age, size and disabled persons in its advertising by 2020; 30% ethnic diversity at the senior director level and above by 2025; and a plan to achieve diverse supplier spend of at least 5% by 2021.

Macy’s push comes at a crucial time for the broader retail industry. In just the past year and a half, high-profile brands like Adidas, Nike, Gucci and Prada have faced criticism for perceived diversity and inclusion missteps. The company said it hopes its newly expanded diversity goals will “help set the tone and influence inclusivity standards and practices across the retail industry.”

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