Saks Fifth Avenue’s Tracy Margolies on Gender Equality & Being a Role Model

Every day in June, FN is showcasing female leaders across the industry for our Women in Power series.

In the midst of the Saks Fifth Avenue New York flagship’s massive renovation, chief merchant Tracy Margolies has been a leading force for the retailer. She has been crucial to the department store’s main floor upgrade, which launched in February and tripled the size of Saks’ handbag department, and Margolies has continued to empower the women around her throughout the process.

Here, FN caught up with the exec on her own major milestones and how she supports her female counterparts.

What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?
It is an extremely sensitive time for women, and this can lead to intense emotions. Fighting the fight and remaining positive can be difficult, but it is important we believe in the power of people, both men and women, and that all leaders work toward empowering the individual. Women are best as a team, a united front. Banding together is vital to realizing women’s rights and gender equality.”

What advice do you have for women negotiating a salary increase, promotion or other challenging issue at work?
Have confidence to speak up and not to back down on your morals. Women were born to be leaders and must have confidence to take action in all aspects of life. I recommend refraining from saying the word ‘sorry.’ As women, we were trained, or it was understood, that we approach situations or challenging conversations humbly. This should not be the case. Equality is real, and we should be strong and unapologetic.”

What are you doing to support the next generation?
“[I aim] to be a positive female role model, both personally and professionally. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished. I am a single mother by choice and the chief merchant at Saks Fifth Avenue, one of the top luxury retailers in the world. I hope to showcase what a woman can be in a positive and empowering way.”

Have you encountered resistance when working under — or leading — men?
I’ve never encountered resistance. My male leaders have supported me throughout my career and are now mentors. Those who report into me have only shown respect and willingness to learn.”

How has #MeToo changed the professional landscape and your workplace specifically?
“The ethos of the past year or so is female empowerment. I’ve seen women, incredibly strong and beautiful women, take action in their careers, relationships and beyond. And as a female leader, it is my job, and prerogative, to push this empowering spirit along. Saks is great for appreciating individuality, nurturing and motivating all to grow in their careers, no matter the gender.”

What have been the biggest tipping points in your career?
“The Saks New York 10022-SHOE salon launch in 2007. This was a stretch project for me, one that tested my creativity and leadership skills. I’m incredibly proud of the success, and looking back at the achievement gives me strength and confidence to push for what I believe in. [And] as part of the Grand Renovation  —  the multiyear restoration of our Saks New York flagship — I’ve been instrumental in planning and launching the recent iconic main and beauty on two floors. These are bold moves and retail game changers. I’m proud to be part of such important milestones at Saks.”

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