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How Nordstrom HR Chief Farrell Redwine Promotes an ‘Ecosystem’ of Diversity and Inclusion

As the leader of Nordstrom’s human resources team, Farrell Redwine has a unique strategy when it comes to diversity and inclusion.

To her, diversity is more than one element of an overarching people strategy. Rather, it’s a driving force behind an entire “human resources ecosystem,” spanning everything from retail and corporate employees to the marketplace and customer experience.

“We’ve had a longstanding belief at Nordstrom of the value that diversity brings to our company and the communities that we serve,” Redwine told FN in an interview.

Redwine, who previously held various HR and diversity-related roles at Time Inc., Time Warner and Barclays Capital, oversees recruitment, succession planning, learning and development, recognition and retention initiatives at Nordstrom. She joined Nordstrom’s HR team in 2016 and was named chief HR officer earlier this year. Under her guidance, the 120-year-old company has made notable strides in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion in the last few years.

With no official chief diversity officer at the company, Redwine also helms Nordstrom’s diversity, inclusion and belonging strategy, which is built upon four key areas of focus: talent, culture, marketplace and leadership.

“By having diversity as a part of our entire human resources ecosystem, it allows us to ensure that diversity and inclusion are considered as principles as well as ways of working throughout all aspects of the employee lifecycle,” she said. Redwine believes diversity can relate to gender, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, as well as unique perspectives and experiences.

In August 2020, Nordstrom announced an extensive plan to address diversity across the organization, from talent recruitment and company culture to customer engagement, merchandising and charitable donations. With the announcement, Nordstrom joined the ranks of Nike, Lululemon, Tapestry and more retailers and brands that have made similar commitments.

As part of its pledge, Nordstrom laid out a series of diversity and inclusion targets to hit by 2025, including increasing Black and Latinx representation in people-manager roles by at least 50%, having at least 50% of interns and early-career employees come from underrepresented populations, and introducing anti-racism and anti-bias training for those in customer-facing roles. Nordstrom is also offering access to its Employee Resource Groups to all associates outside of corporate offices.

Beyond recruitment, Nordstrom is focused on career development for employees by fostering pathways for store associates with a desire to go the corporate route, especially in areas such as merchandising, finance and marketing.

“We have a number of different pipelines where we’re actively looking for and providing pathways for our employees to move across the organization and within the organization,” Redwine said.

On the marketplace front, Nordstrom committed to selling more than $500 million worth of product operated by, or designed by Black and Latinx people. In July, Nordstrom signed the 15 Percent Pledge to commit to offering at least 15% of its shelf-space for Black-owned businesses. Nordstrom said it would grow its total purchases from Black-owned or Black-founded brands by 10 times by the end of 2030.

To make sure the company meets these targets by 2025, Nordstrom launched a Diversity Inclusion and Belonging Council earlier this year. Co-chaired by Nordstrom CEO Erik Nordstrom, president and chief brand officer Pete Nordstrom and Redwine, the council meets on a quarterly basis to review progress.

Redwine said these commitments play out broadly across Nordstrom’s business, working together to carry out change internally as well as externally.

“[We hope] that diversity becomes embedded in the things that we do versus a set aside or an activity that needs to be done,” she said.

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