Nordstrom Unveils Wide-Ranging Plan to Address Diversity In Its Workforce & on Its Shelves

Nordstrom Inc. is making clear its commitment to diversity throughout its organization.

In an open letter to employees today, Nordstrom CEO Erik Nordstrom and president Pete Nordstrom announced specific details of the company’s new diversity, inclusion and belonging (DIB) strategy, which they say is the culmination of a months-long listening campaign among employees, customers, partners and the community.

The wide-ranging plan includes specific goals related to talent recruitment and company culture, as well as customer engagement, merchandising and charitable donations. To oversee the changes, the department store has created the Diversity Inclusion and Belonging Council, which is co-chaired by Pete and Erik Nordstrom and chief HR officer Christine Deputy, and made up of a mix of employees and board members.

In regard to employee diversity, Nordstrom noted that 60% of its employees identify as non-white and three of its 11 board members are Black, but that it is important to “ensure this level of diversity is reflected at all leadership levels throughout the company.”

To that end, the retailer is striving for a 50% increase in representation of Black and Latinx populations in manager roles by the end of 2025. And to create a pipeline for more diverse talent, it aims for 50% of participants in its internship programs to come from underrepresented populations.

In order to foster a culture of belonging within the organization, Nordstrom plans to expand its Employee Resource Groups beyond the Seattle area by the end of this year, offering the program to all of its associates.

Furthermore, it is encouraging employees to make their voices heard outside of the workplace, by voting in the upcoming presidential election. To ensure workers have the opportunity, Nordstrom is making Nov. 3 a company holiday.

When it comes to its merchandising plans, while Nordstrom has not signed on to the 15 Percent Pledge proposed by designer Aurora James, the company said today it is committing to $500 million in retail sales from brands owned by, operated by or designed by Black and/or Latinx individuals by the end of 2025.  

Additionally, it is looking into opportunities to partner with more diverse influencers on future Nordstrom Made exclusive collections — similar to the Be Proud by BP collection that debuted for Pride Month.

And as part of its charitable outreach, Nordstrom intends to double its donations to organizations fighting racism, promising to give a total of $1 million each year for the next five years. And it has forged a multiyear partnership with the National Urban League, a civil rights organization focused on equality and social justice.

Earlier this month, president of stores Jamie Nordstrom spoke with FN editorial director Michael Atmore during the FN Virtual Summit and shared some of the company’s D&I journey.

“Three years ago, we took another step forward in establishing some clear priorities and goals, particularly around inclusion. We established employee resource groups for LGBTQ, for Black employees, for veterans. We’ve been focused on increasing the diversity of our workforce across all levels of the company,” he said. “We’ve measured that and we made progress. We’ve got a long way to go but if you look at where we were five, 10 years ago, we have dramatically increased the level of diversity we have.”

He added that recent events have brought forward a new awareness in the organization. “What we’ve all discovered as a country over the past few months is we have an opportunity and platform around racial justice that we need to take responsibility for,” said Nordstrom. “We’ve learned a lot about what a lot of folks on our team have been going through. We are more motivated than ever. There are simple things we can do within our stores that we heard — and I’m sure a lot of retailers did — that while not [intentional], may perpetuate some of these racial injustices. We need to fix those. That’s our responsibility and our entire team is focused on that.”

— With contributions from Katie Abel

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