Inside Retail Services News

Investing in the retail workforce advances equity and business

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August has been a busy month for the Washington Retail team to speak on the importance of “investing in the retail workforce” to advance equity and opportunities within retail.

Early this month, Rick Means, our Director of Safety and Education, partnered with the National Retail Foundation to present the RISE Up curriculum at the Washington Association for Career and Technical Education conference in Spokane.

At the Council of Retail Association’s annual conference in Annapolis, Maryland, last week, Renée Sunde, our President and CEO, and Rose Gundersen shared the importance of retail workforce training as they took part in a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion panel. It was an exciting exchange of promising practices to advance DEI along with our colleagues from Minnesota and North Carolina.

Our VP of Operations and Retail Services, Rose Gundersen, was invited to the Gig Harbor Chamber’s August luncheon to speak on this topic to persuade the Chamber board to initiate a local retail career advancement conversation. The Gig Harbor Chamber board and staff responded positively, and we are grateful to learn their Education Committee intends to collaborate with us in the coming months.

Retail frontline employees’ wage growth has outpaced those of other sectors and the overall private sectors since the pandemic began in March 2020. Despite all this encouraging news on retail wages, retail employers continue to struggle.

Based on recent regional retail career conversations, anecdotes from retailers, and insights from workforce training resources, it is clear there is a commonly held negative perception regarding retail work. We have been working hard to remove the misperception that a retail career offer low pay and lacks growth opportunities. These beliefs create a systemic barrier, perpetuating the lack of resources to fund frontline retail workforce training.

Addressing this objective will not only advance career opportunities for frontline employees where people of color are overrepresented in comparison to retail management jobs, according to research, providing upskilling opportunities will also support retail employers who are struggling with filling jobs.

Event recap.docx  – this has pictures from the ACTE conference in Spokane

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