Promising Practice Network of Executive Women's Future Fund

The Target Corporation

Industry: Retail

Principle I: Employment and Compensation

Principle IV: Management and Governance

Principle V: Business, Supply Chain, and Marketing Practices

Principle VII: Leadership, Transparency, and Accountability

Target believes diversity and inclusivity make its teams and the company better, which is why diversity and inclusion were added to the five core beliefs. Recently, CEO Brian Cornell teamed up with Indra Nooyi, Chairwoman and CEO of PepsiCo to form the Network of Executive Women’s (NEW) Future Fund, an industry-wide campaign aimed at achieving 50/50 gender parity in the workforce, particularly at the C-suite and board levels. The goal of the campaign is to fund technology that will supply industry-specific data, training solutions, and collaboration tools to help more women advance their careers and land leadership roles.

"Since I began my career with Target, I have had the opportunity to be a part of a workplace that has built a framework around inclusion and gender equality…I have continued to feel this support through the recognition of my accomplishments, skills, and career progression over the last 11 years." 
Sara Moghadam
District Team Leader
Silicon Valley

Target currently is well above industry and external benchmarks when it comes to leadership positions held by women in the C-suite and Board of Directors. Almost half of the company’s 1,800 stores are run by female leaders who manage businesses that generate tens of millions of dollars in annual sales and lead teams of several hundred people.

The NEW Future Fund is an investment program dedicated to closing the gender gap in the retail industry, so Target is still at a point where they are encouraging companies to invest in the NEW Future Fund.

How does this promising practice work?

Success of the NEW Future Fund is measured when the retail and consumer goods industry meets the goal of achieving 50/50 gender parity and makes sure great women leaders have an opportunity to rise as far as their talents will take them. The NEW Future Fund is tackling this challenge by providing new tools and training to increase the number of women in the retail and consumer goods industry with the support of all of NEW’s nearly 10,000 members from these industries.

Success for Target with regard to opening leadership opportunities to women is measured by increasing the presence of women in leadership positions at all levels of the company. As stated earlier, Target is well on its way to this goal. Target will continue to strive to remain ahead of the curve in developing female leaders in retail.

All outcomes will be based on the future involvement of other companies investing. However, even in its nascent stages, the response has been excellent from executives at companies including Wal-Mart, Chevron, General Mills, and Costco, to name a few.

How can I adopt this promising practice in my workplace?

This initiative starts by continuing to build and support a culture of true workplace inclusion and an atmosphere that empowers women to be leaders and grow in their careers. Target’s headquarters has an employee resource group, the Women’s Business Council, which engages the Target team through things like mentorship experiences and career counseling. Senior leaders also help educate male advocates, support Target's women-owned vendors and suppliers, and engage Target’s leadership and constituencies in conversation. They also bring in leading outside voices, such as Sheryl Sandberg, through a speaker series designed to spark conversations about leadership, curiosity, and innovation. Encouraging these kinds of activities as a part of a workplace culture is designed to close gaps, increase engagement, foster equity, and create opportunities for all leaders.

"It’s important to us that the diversity is represented not just at the lower levels but that the diversity flows through to upper levels of leadership." 
Jamie Tajii
Human Resources Director
San Francisco Bay Area

Those individuals/corporations participating in the NEW Future Fund are tasked with the following at the CEO level:

1. Drive 50/50 gender parity at every level of their company.
2. Hold senior leaders accountable for diversity and inclusion.
3. Advocate for women’s leadership, within the company and at industry events.
4. Financially support the NEW Future Fund.
5. Create a reputation for social responsibility for their company and a personal legacy for themselves.

Senior-level executives at participating corporations are tasked with the following:

1. Become an advocate for 50/50 gender parity.
2. Increase inclusion in the talent pipeline.
3. Encourage employees to take advantage of NEW Future Fund resources and events.
4. Nurture, mentor, and sponsor talented women.
5. Urge corporate leadership to support the NEW Future Fund.
6. Celebrate promotions and accomplishments publicly.

View Ann Lehman's profile on LinkedIn