Container Stories

Diversity, Equity And Inclusion

A Message From Melissa Reiff, our Chairwoman, CEO, and President

by Melissa
null

January 25, 2021 

 

Dear TCS All,

 

Like no other year, 2020 was defined by a need for self-reflection and change. As a company and team, we depended on strength of mind and action to keep us going. I continue to be incredibly proud of how we work together to protect and sustain each other, and our company during these unprecedented times. So much has happened over the last several months and the way in which we have challenged our thinking, pivoted and continue to respond is critical in keeping up with our ever changing environment and the expectations of those we employ and serve.

 We must do more than just keep up, though - especially when we are talking about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. We must consistently contribute to making the appropriate change happen. We must do everything we can, as individuals and as a company, to ensure that all of us, regardless of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or religious affiliation have EQUAL opportunity to grow, develop and achieve our dreams.

After the horrific murder of George Floyd, I shared with you that we are a company that has always strived to nurture an inclusive and caring culture where all employees are appreciated and valued; however, we still have work to do. Well, we are doing that work. 

Today, I'd like to share what we have done and what we plan to do.

- We formed a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion task force to take a hard look at our company and our practices. Led by Natasha Singleton, our Vice President of Indirect Procurement and Business Processes, the task force examined the good, the bad and the ugly. This committee has been meeting on an ongoing basis since last summer. 

- We surveyed our Black employees and also held eight round table group sessions with a racially diverse mix of employees to gain a clear picture of where we truly are as a company. I'm very grateful to everyone for sharing their perspectives and truth.

- We talked with leaders from other companies about ways to hold ourselves accountable and create meaningful benchmarks. 

- We trained the company on unconscious biases, via the "How's Your Day" training that was received in August of 2020 and made this a part of our new hire training plan.

- We hosted a half-day of training for our Company Leadership Team by two outside experts to ensure our leadership is equipped with knowledge and understanding to propel change in our organization.

- We continue to ensure diversity is at the forefront of our marketing programs, including diverse representation in our latest class of Brand Ambassadors, and become more intentional in showcasing diversity in creative assets and attracting a more diverse group of customers.

- We elevated our commitment to supporting underrepresented communities through donating products for back-to-school drives and other charitable organizations, such as For Oak Cliff and Action with Compassion. We recently donated products and volunteer hours from talented employees to support a Dallas nonprofit, Viola's House. Viola's House helps homeless teen expectant mothers make enduring, positive changes in their lives by providing housing, food, clothing and counseling, as well as teaching financial literacy, parenting and other life skills. Viola's House has been added by our Charitable Giving team for ongoing support and employee donations. 

- We began sourcing even more products from minority vendors. In addition, the Buying Department is extremely excited about our first Diversity and Inclusion New Product Showcase in early February, where we will highlight and source products from minority owned businesses.

The biggest takeaway from what we learned is that systemic problems must be combatted with systemic solutions. To that end, our Action Plan focuses on four pillars of change.

1. LISTEN & RESPOND TO EMPLOYEE CONCERNS: We will ensure employees are aware of the many ways they can voice concerns about racism, injustice and inequality without fear of judgment or retaliation. These include speaking to their supervisor or manager, or any member of The Container Store leadership team, by emailing EmployeeRelations@Containerstore.com, or reporting an ethics concern to the The Container Store ethics and compliance solution, Convercent, which can be done anonymously by phone or email. In addition, support will be available through the Human Resources Office for those who do not feel comfortable with any of the aforementioned venues.

2. EDUCATE EVERYONE: We will create an ongoing training and education plan for all employees at every level to address things like unconscious biases, employee development, leadership training and understanding of different cultures.

3. RECRUIT RETAIN & DEVELOP: We will create a process to intentionally recruit, hire and develop diverse employees at all levels of our organization including our stores, distribution centers, and home office. We will establish partnerships with colleges and universities to broaden our pool of diverse candidates, conduct annual compensation reviews to ensure pay equity across functions, and we will launch a Human Resources newsletter which will highlight cultural events, diversity efforts, employee profiles and job opportunities.

4. BE ACCOUNTABLE & ENGAGE: We will hold ourselves accountable - tracking results and continuing to partner with social services and advocacy groups to donate time and product to support diversity, equality, and opportunity in our communities. We will continue to increase marketing and buying inclusion where appropriate to expand our customer base and ensure all people see themselves as part of our brand. 

You may have heard me say "we all have to understand the goal and have the plan down on paper in order to MAKE IT HAPPEN!" It can't just be a wish. Because a goal without a plan is just that - merely a wish. 

And now that we have a plan, it's going to take participation and personal accountability from all of us to see that we obtain our goal and succeed. I'm super proud and excited about the steps we have taken and the path we have chosen. I know Satish, our incoming CEO, will be a champion of this important cause as well. The time is now!  

Any questions - of course - let me know.

 

Talk soon - melissa