Staples’ commitment to diversity and inclusion stems from our recognition that being a successful company requires people with a variety of backgrounds and diverse perspectives. We know that differences in age, race, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, physical ability, background and thinking style allow us to be more innovative as a company. We believe that attracting, developing and retaining an associate base that reflects the diversity of our customers is essential to our success. Our diverse workforce and network of suppliers strengthens relationships with our customers and gives us the flexibility to adapt to the ever-changing global marketplace. At Staples, we recognize that, at every level, the best performance will come from people who understand and appreciate this commitment.
We've built a great company by embracing the differences of our associates, customers and the communities we serve. And our commitment to diversity will grow even stronger as we build the Staples of the future.
Our goal is to reflect the faces of our customers in every market where Staples has a presence. Only then will we achieve our vision of being the world's best office products company.
Chairman and CEO
June 22, 2010
In order to ensure that we're effectively managing for diversity at Staples, we have set up structures and functions to oversee and guide our diversity activities. Most of all, we're focused on attracting and retaining diverse associates across our global operations, specifically with regard to gender and minority diversity in our management and executive ranks. We seek to emulate the success we’ve already achieved in establishing a truly diverse Board of Directors.
In 2010, we created a Global Diversity Council composed of 15 business leaders representing business operations worldwide. The Council is chaired by Staples Chairman and CEO Ron Sargent and oversees company diversity strategies and metrics. Day to day, our diversity programs and initiatives are managed by the Director of Global Inclusion & Diversity, who reports to the Senior Vice President of Human Resources.
As part of our systematic approach to increasing diversity, we have established processes to track our current performance and to identify areas of particular opportunity or concern. In the United States, for example, we monitor our progress on a quarterly basis using six key metrics for minorities and women, including:
We distribute a diversity scorecard reflecting these five metrics, broken down by functional areas and business units, to senior business leaders and the Global Diversity Council. The scorecard findings help shape our recruiting and retention strategy throughout the year.
In addition to tracking current performance and taking action in response to trends and opportunities, we proactively incorporate a focus on diversity and inclusion in Staples training activities. We include diversity information in programs ranging from New Hire Orientation — required of all new associates — to Staples LearningXchange programs, which help prepare managers and senior executives to manage effectively in diverse workplaces.
In support of our diversity objectives, we have established programs, initiatives and resources to help all associates feel welcome and engaged at work, better connect and communicate with their peers and further develop their professional skills.
Associate Resource Groups (ARGs) are a tremendous asset for diverse associates who are seeking to develop strong networks and hone their professional skills. At the same time, ARGs provide a mechanism for Staples to more deeply engage with associates and, in turn, increase the retention rates of diverse employees. ARGs also serve as important tools for the business, helping Staples to gain insights into our diverse customer segments. ARGs offer members mentoring, skill development and internal and external networking opportunities. Group members themselves identify, select and pursue those activities they view as priorities.
Since 2010, we have increased our total number of ARGs to 11. In our Framingham, MA corporate headquarters, we have groups for women, LGBT, Blacks, Hispanics/Latinos, Asians & Asian Americans, and Young Professionals. We also have a women’s group in our Broomfield, CO, Maitland, FL and Ontario, Canada locations and a Young Professionals group in Lincolnshire, IL. Additionally, we have a Hispanics/Latinos group in La Mirada, CA. Throughout the year, these groups have launched several initiatives for associates, such as:
We also launched our first international group in 2011, called Gender Balance, which is focused on gender equality. Through Gender Balance, we have established a formal community of committed associates, both male and female, who support our global diversity strategy, Staples business results, a winning place to work and associate engagement. These associates join together on a quarterly basis in support of improving our gender balance across our management team.
Our groups continue to provide members with a collective voice, a formal community, a sense of empowerment and decision-making, deeper engagement in the company, a focus on commonalities and a forum to celebrate differences. Staples Associate Resource Groups are key business partners that support our Company of Choice strategy and commitment to global inclusion and diversity.
In 2011, we continued to develop and expand the mentoring program we launched in 2010 to pair senior leaders with high-performing female and ethnically or racially diverse associates in close professional development partnerships. In the U.S., we expanded our program to include associates in our Broomfield, CO office, and piloted a very successful group mentoring format to provide a less traditional approach to mentoring.
Also in 2011, Staples International kicked off a Women’s Mentoring Program, aimed at allowing our associates new development opportunities with the support of mentors from our senior management team, with 15 women participating in the initial test launch of the program. One of the central aims of the program is to assist women in mid-management move up in the organization and overcome any barriers that might exist when progressing into the higher management positions of the company. By helping mentees to perform within our current working culture and practices, we hope to increase the number of women at the top of Staples and be more representative of our customers and society as a whole, thus producing a more dynamic working culture for the future. By allowing our senior management team to work closely with women mentees and develop emerging talent, we also create a better company-wide understanding of diversity issues and expose management to new ways of thinking and acting.
The Staples “Businesswoman of the Year” contests are intended to recognize and appreciate the talented women at Staples who positively impact our company, our customers and our communities. As well as focusing on leadership development for all our associates, we are conducting initiatives such as this to help address the current under-representation of females in management. This year, Staples expanded on the very successful gender diversity initiative first launched in Australia and New Zealand in 2010 to include the U.S. and Canada. The program has been a great success for all female participants and has contributed to an increase of women in leadership roles.
Associates are invited to nominate a woman in the business who they think deserves to be recognized. A summary of our three awards is provided below:
In 2011, Staples Italy was recognized by Regione Piemonte for the number of female associates in the workplace and for its gender balance initiatives, which have been considered excellent practices for allowing a stronger work–life balance for women in professional environments. Programs such as KM0 (a grocery purchasing scheme that supports local businesses), a partnership with a local launderette laundromat to offer services to Staples associates, and an associate maternity support program (offering associates a “New Baby Kit,” paternity leave for new fathers, and support for new mothers from trained therapists) were all recognized as contributing toward a sound, gender-balanced workplace culture.
Staples is committed to offering a diverse and inclusive environment, which has led our operations in Argentina and Italy to begin disability inclusion and awareness programs.
In Argentina, where it is estimated that 75 percent of people with recognized disabilities are unemployed, Staples initiated the “Yo Tambien” initiative to raise awareness among associates and to successfully prepare our local operations to accommodate visually impaired associates. In 2012, Staples Argentina has been working with NGOs to increase the scope of the program.
Meanwhile, Staples Italy has launched a training program with a local charity to educate young people with physical and mental disabilities and improve their employment skills. The program also offers several internship placements through a government program and will be expanded in the coming years.
Staples is a member of and supports a wide range of diversity-focused professional organizations. For example, we have been a member of the MetroWest Alliance for Workforce Diversity (MAWD), an organization local to our Massachusetts headquarters, for seven years.
As part of its activities, MAWD:
One of our Human Resources associates currently serves on the MAWD’s board of directors, and we have hosted MAWD meetings and supported its diversity job fairs and other events.
Staples also has an ongoing relationship with Simmons College for Women in Boston, MA. Staples associates regularly attend professional development conferences and other events for working women at the College.
In addition, through our partnership with Bottom Line, a Boston-based organization that helps disadvantaged youth get into and graduate from college, Staples participates in and sponsors various events including career fairs and mock interviews. In addition, a member of Staples’ recruiting team serves on an advisory board for the organization. We have also established a process for considering Bottom Line students for employment in our stores.
Much of Staples’ and Staples Foundation’s philanthropy is dedicated to disadvantaged youth, regardless of ethnicity, but with a special emphasis on diverse populations, including:
We believe that strengthening diverse businesses contributes to the overall economic success in the communities where we live and work. Staples’ Corporate Supplier Diversity Program’s mission is to promote and increase the inclusion of the following diverse businesses in our supply chain: Small Disadvantaged Businesses (SDB), Minority-Owned Business Enterprise (MBE), Women-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE), Disabled Business Enterprise (DIS), Veteran-Owned Businesses (VBE) and HUBZone Businesses. In 2011, Staples spent nearly $300 million with diverse suppliers.
By including and supporting diverse businesses in our supply chain, we create jobs, opportunity and growth for the diverse customers and communities we serve. As described by Harvard Business School professor Michael E. Porter in a 2010 article on Inner City Business in Bloomberg Businessweek, large corporations have a lot to gain by investing in the local communities where they operate. Small businesses with fewer than 100 employees create 60 percent of the jobs in the U.S., and corporations can play an important role in supporting and growing these enterprises — which produce value for owners and employees — through their sourcing decisions. These partnerships can increase a corporation’s own productivity while also benefitting the local community.
According to Catalyst, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating workplaces that enable women and their employers to succeed, the buying power of women and minorities has increased dramatically since 1990 and is projected to continue climbing. With increased buying power comes an increased expectation on the part of consumers. It's important that the companies they buy from support not only employee diversity but also the diversity of their supply chains. Staples' continued efforts to increase supplier diversity promote diversity across the company's entire value chain.
"Staples Soul reflects our commitment to corporate and social responsibility. It's an approach to business that recognizes the connection between our success and our desire to make a positive impact on our associates, communities and the planet. Developing a thriving supplier diversity program is consistent with our Staples Soul values and will continue to be part of our business strategy for years to come."
— Ron Sargent, Chairman and CEO
In 2011, we saw continued program growth and achieved significant milestones. For example, we:
In 2011, the Staples Supplier Diversity program continued to engage with diverse suppliers, organizations and the larger community in several ways.
To learn more, please visit our Supplier Diversity Web site.
Staples Australia is a founding member of the Australian Government’s Australian Indigenous Minority Supplier Council (AIMSC). We procure products and services directly from AIMSC Certified suppliers for our own use, and also offer our customers products from AIMSC Certified suppliers. For example, Staples offers Indigenous-owned print management services, as well as a range of corporate gifts and break room products, from AIMSC Certified suppliers. During 2011, Staples Australia introduced a variety of AIMSC Certified office products, including copy paper, notebooks, envelopes, manila folders and paper coffee cups featuring Indigenous art designs to our product assortment. In addition to working with Indigenous businesses, our supplier diversity program includes ADE Certified Australian Disability Enterprises, women-owned businesses and Small to Medium-Sized Enterprises, or SMEs.
Going beyond supporting supplier diversity in our product offerings, in late 2010 we launched a program to help address the social and economic disadvantages faced by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Through a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), we are solidifying our commitment to integrating awareness and understanding of Indigenous peoples and cultures into our business practices in Australia. In 2011, we implemented a variety of activities to bring associates awareness to our RAP program, and also started developing our Indigenous employment strategy.