For Designer Brands Inc., success starts from within. The Columbus, Ohio-based company is actively working to create a more diverse, inclusive and fair environment not only for its employees, but for its customers as well. At the same time, it also introduces more sustainable practices and gives back to the communities it serves through philanthropic support.
To promote these practices, Designer Brands added more leadership, including Christina Ballenger, who was hired in October 2020 as DCI’s first head. Laura Noonen started in April as Senior Director of Global Compliance, another new role that covers business issues and sustainability.
The company also cultivates these missions at employee level through Business Resource Groups (BRGs), organized around various diversities; and Community Interest Groups (GICs), based on shared interests around various initiatives and business objectives.
Through the BRGs and CIGs, the company has developed several initiatives within the DCI space, covering everything from World Mental Health Day and the fight against Asian hate to Cancer Awareness Month. breast, to name a few.
Additionally, CEO Roger Rawlins signed the CEO’s Pledge to Diversity and Inclusion in January, pledging to advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and it has been signed by more than 2,000 CEOs.
To act in favor of sustainable development, DBI recently engaged with an external consulting company on its manufacturing base. The advisory group will examine many areas of labor, health and safety, environment and labor standards from a management perspective. Internally, the company has a CIG called Our Planet that educates and inspires employees to make sustainable choices, both inside and outside the office.
“As a party and entity in the world, we no longer just have a corporate advantage to explore in the sustainability space, but a moral obligation,” Noonen said. “And it’s very exciting to be in a company that is committing to it again, not just in words, but also in actions. “
For philanthropy, DBI contributes to a number of organizations and nonprofits that support local communities and align with the direction of the business. DBI Gives, the company’s philanthropic program, has worked with the United Way, the Red Cross and Meals on Wheels, and many others.
It also continues to build on its fruitful partnership with Soles4Souls. The two have been working together since May 2017 and by November of this year DBI will have donated 5 million pairs of shoes through Soles4Souls.
“[DBI Gives] is a great way to listen to our people, ”said Amy Jo Donohew, senior vice president of human resources. “I’m not going to tell them where to volunteer – they tell me. So it’s about listening to what people want to do.
While the company has administered all types of corporate social responsibility practices and is actively working to add more, Noonen, Donohew and Ballenger all agree that these actions are important not only to the company, but also for customers and communities.
“There’s no way we can’t do this job because at the foundation we’re people,” Ballenger said. “So if we can’t just get down to work and use our voices to inspire innovation in business practices and strategies and things of that nature, then we’ll end up being a little deaf and becoming obsolete. “