Macy’s Inc. Taps Abigail James as Chief DEI Officer

Macy’s has elevated Abigail James to the role of chief diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) officer, the retailer announced on Thursday.

James, who has been with Macy’s for 27 years, most recently served as senior vice president of marketing, customer activation and also previously served as interim chief brand officer. She replaces Shawn Outler, who will be stepping down in May after more than five years in the role and long tenure at the company.

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Abigail James
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“We are excited for Abby to take on this important leadership role as we work to continue to deliver on the promise of Mission Every One,” said Danielle Kirgan, chief human resources and corporate affairs officer at Macy’s, Inc, referring to the retailer’s social purpose platform that launched in 2022 and centers on people, communities and planet. “Abby’s long tenure with the company provides her with a deep understanding of the critical role that DE&I plays in advancing our business priorities, company culture, and go-forward strategy. She has been uniquely involved in guiding our organization through changing societal and cultural dynamics and has played an important role in our Diversity Equity Inclusion Business Council (DEIBC).”

Outler exits her role after a relatively long tenure as chief diversity officer, a role known for its high turnover rates. The average tenure for CDOs was just 3.4 years in 2022, according to leadership advisory firm Russell Reynolds Associates. Just this week, Under Armour announced that its chief people and administrative officer who heavily involved in diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, would leave the company.

“Shawn is a courageous and inspirational leader, and we are incredibly grateful for her contributions over the past 28 years,” Kirgan said. “She created the company’s first DE&I Center of Expertise and was a key contributor in the development of Mission Every One and as a trusted advisor, instilled a commitment to DE&I across our organization.”

In March 2022, Macy’s launched its Mission Every One platform and said it would direct $5 billion of the company’s spend through 2025 to the partners, products, people and programs that help create a more equitable and sustainable future. To promote diversity within the organization, Macy’s said it would accelerate its representation goals among leadership by achieving 30 percent ethnically diverse representation by 2025 at the director level and above.

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