diverse hands

“If you don’t get a little bit scared about not being diverse, then you’re not going to be relevant,” James Fripp, chief equity and inclusion officer at Yum! Brands told attendees. 

Walmart US President and CEO John Furner urged retailers to be unwavering about committing to better representation, and to be transparent about their progress. Walmart, for its part, issues annual reports, like one in 2021 revealed that: 47% of US associates were POC, up from 43% in 2019. 46% of those promoted to management were women, up from 43% in 2019.

Ralph Lauren president and CEO Patrice Louvet said: “Five to 10 years from now, companies that don’t put [issues around sustainability and diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) as a priority will have a problem with consumers, employees, investors, [and] their partners. It’s not a choice. It has to be integrated in everything we do.”

Nancy Green, president and CEO of Gap Inc. Old Navy added that today “customers want to connect with brands that mirror their values”, pointing to “purpose” as a critical path to success.

Implications: Diversity, equity and inclusion must be seen as an ongoing journey rather than a destination — and the steps taken must be individual in addition to corporate. Mark Irvin, chief inclusion, diversity and talent officer for Best Buy Co. Inc., said that 2020 and 2021 were the years of making commitments. But 2022 “has to be the year of action,” he said. “It has to be a year where all of us begin to stop saying, ‘If you would do …’ but now start to say, ‘I will do.’