Prioritising a Culture of Inclusivity at PVH Corp. -

Prioritising a Culture of Inclusivity at PVH Corp.

 Prioritising a Culture of Inclusivity at PVH Corp.

NEW YORK, United States — Since 2015, the global apparel company PVH Corp. and its portfolio of brands, including Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein, have sought to develop future leaders and foster an environment of empowerment, equality, advancement and community through business resource groups, or BRGs.

Supported by the global and regional Inclusion and Diversity (I&D) Councils, and with “chapters” in different regions, the company’s four voluntary, associate-led BRGs include: UPWARD, pertaining to Uniting Professional Women Advancing Relationships & Development; WERK, the LGBTQIA+ network standing for Well-Connected, Equality, Resourcefulness and Knowledge; BRAAVE, or Building Resources for African American Voices and Empowerment; and Working Parents, for parents at the company.

From PVH’s support and sponsorship of global Pride events, including New York, Tokyo, Okinawa, Hong Kong, Toronto, Montreal and Amsterdam, to their commitment to the UN’s Women’s Empowerment Principles and support for initiatives such as the United Nations’ HeForShe initiative and Human Rights Campaign, the BRGs’ associates and their influence has sparked support and buy-in from their senior leaders.

Indeed, with approximately 50 percent of senior leadership roles and 33 percent of board directors seats held by women, and more than 1,500 leaders educated in unconscious bias, PVH and its brands recognise that having a more inclusive workforce is better for business and the importance of driving forward inclusion, diversity and equality. A 2020 McKinsey study found a 48 percent performance differential between the most and least gender-diverse companies. In 2019, the company reported $9.9 billion in revenue.

Now, BoF talks to three women leaders at PVH, Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein to hear about their roles and activities in the associate-led business resource groups, their work as role models and mentors, and developing future leaders across the company.

Eileen Mahoney, Executive Vice President, CIO at PVH Corp. PVH.

Eileen Mahoney, Executive Vice President, Chief Information Officer PVH

Mahoney is a founding member of PVH’s women’s business resource group, UPWARD, which has a membership of over 1,200 women. She was recognised by Women in IT New York as CIO of the Year in 2019, indicted as a member of the CIO Hall of Fame in 2020.

What is your role at PVH?

I joined PVH in 2008 and became the chief information officer in 2014, with the responsibility of leading and building the technology strategy. I am also working on empowering the women in the company, helping them on their career opportunities and challenges.

In technology, there are less women today than there were 15 years ago. In a male-dominated space, I want to figure out how to break the mould and keep encouraging and developing women to be the next leaders, not just in technology but in PVH in general. Being able to give back and mentor women to become the next generation of leaders — seeing them raise the bar, build that next great initiative, or just to excel at their current role — is one of those legacies I’d like to leave behind.

Prior to establishing UPWARD, which was PVH’s first BRG, our chairman and CEO Manny Chirico asked a number of senior leaders to establish a women’s leadership council to make sure he was hearing their voices in the company. That led to the establishment of UPWARD, through which we also started to look at wider initiatives, from parental leave to flex time benefits, empowering not only women but all of our associates.

What role do you believe the BRGs play?

The BRGs are a great community forum to help associates deal with what’s going on in the real world. They operate as a support system, offering a chance for future leaders to gain more confidence and ensure all voices are heard. For example, we provide opportunities for women to practice upcoming presentations, and we look at how to develop their professional profiles, in a safe space. Aligning real-life business scenarios with their professional development allows them to put it into practice on a daily basis.

UPWARD is also about advancing relationships and development. We started to drill down into what that meant, and we realised it was important to have that network with male as well as female colleagues. PVH always believes in inclusion first, so we wanted to include all associates.

How have BRGs enabled PVH to support employees through the unprecedented events of 2020?

Our BRAAVE (Building Resources for African American Voices and Empowerment) BRG has been working with PVH leadership to have meaningful conversations on the impact of social injustice experienced by our Black associates, and what PVH needs to do to ensure we have a truly inclusive and diverse company. BRAAVE leadership members partnered with our I&D team to hold associate listening sessions with senior leadership, giving our associates the opportunity to share their stories and ideas and provide suggestions about what PVH can do to stand up to social injustice.

Being part of the BRG gives members a community to lean on for support and help deal with all of these challenges.

Over the last six months, our Working Parents BRG hosted virtual meetings for our associates to discuss the challenges of working from home, including home schooling, caring for their children and balancing it all.

Being part of the BRGs gives members a community to lean on for support and help deal with all of these challenges. We are all learning from each other, leaning on each other and developing agile ways of working. I’m working on building a culture of inclusivity within my team, creating an environment where each associate can be themselves at work whether they identify as a minority, LGBTQIA+, working parent or a woman navigating the corporate environment.

How do you believe PVH demonstrates a culture of inclusivity?

Our I&D council is pushing globally for how we as a company want to be structured — with a culture of inclusion — and how we train our associates so that they are more inclusive. For example, we have made unconscious bias training available to all associates, which has helped them better understand discrimination.

I know that, on the technology side, we have a diverse workforce — but are we diverse enough? We need to have that top of mind when we’re hiring folks. When you have that level of diversity of thought, you wind up looking at things through a different lens, which all contribute to the best outcome. That is how we continue to raise the bar.

Shawuan Johnson, North America EVP of Merchandising, Tommy Hilfiger. PVH.

Shawuan Johnson — Executive Vice President of Merchandising for Tommy Hilfiger Company Stores in North America

A senior advisor for BRAAVE — Building Resources for African American Voices and Empowerment — Shawuan was recently named in the 10th annual list of the top women executives in retail by the Women in Retail Leadership Circle.

What is your role at PVH?

I joined Tommy [Hilfiger] 10 years ago and today I oversee merchandising for outlet retail in North America, with 40 associates on my team — 37 of which are women. My main job is to develop strategies that will drive top-line and bottom-line growth for the business. Then, my role with BRAAVE as a senior advisor is to support and guide the BRG in the great initiatives they are accomplishing within the business.

I am a woman and an African American. What I represent doesn’t fall lightly on me. I see myself as a role model — I know that people are looking up to me. I often quote [activist] Marian Wright Edelman, who said, “You cannot be what you cannot see.” We need more leaders with diverse backgrounds in positions like I have — whether you’re a woman, an African American, Asian — it is important that those voices come through.

How have BRGs enabled PVH to support employees through the unprecedented events of 2020?

BRAAVE provided an important resource within our organisation to help me and other Black associates truly feel that we were not alone. BRGs like BRAAVE offer a platform for associate voices to be heard and create a community of support within our organisation during challenging moments, which was especially valuable as we witnessed social injustice and the evidence of systemic racism in America come to light. We spend so much of our time at work it’s important that we are able to have a place of comfort and support during challenging times.

Creating a safe place for Black associates to have open and honest dialogue with each other and the senior leaders of our organisation helps make PVH a special place to work. BRGs have become an important resource to tap into regarding important CSR issues. They are often used as a sounding board to discuss important and relevant actions our organisation is planning to take because the members are not only passionate PVH associates, they have a shared interest that often mirrors the interests of our society at large.

What buy-in do you have from senior leadership?

As a leader at the company, you are encouraged to take part in the BRGs, or at least support them whenever they reach out. There is also monetary support to create these programmes and I feel lucky to work for a company that is putting the support and infrastructure behind these initiatives. Leaders believe in the importance of this, and it feeds into another layer of how we can accomplish our goals to be more diverse and inclusive.

Creating a safe place for Black associates to have open and honest dialogue with each other and the senior leaders helps make PVH a special place to work.

When we were launching the I&D initiative, I was at a strategy meeting and happened to be sitting next to Manny, who said to me, “Shawuan, I know we’re not going to get all of this right, but I want to learn more.” I really appreciated him being vulnerable in that way. Those kinds of interactions have empowered me and given me confidence that I am being seen and that I do count.

How do you believe PVH demonstrates a culture of inclusivity?

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about diversity in this industry, but it needs to happen at all levels, not just in terms of the models and designers. Whether it’s a merchant, a planner or an allocator for operations, knowing that there will be that pipeline of talent and access that supports these minorities can really change the way a company looks.

BRAAVE has a partnership with Howard University, which I feel is building a true pipeline for change. I was part of a similar programme at the University of North Carolina, with a non-profit organisation called BRAG, which creates opportunities for people of colour to get involved in fashion business. I experienced how that can change the trajectory of your life.

What are you focused on to drive further inclusivity at PVH?

BRAAVE launched a BE BRAAVE campaign that outlines three important areas that we are focused on as an organisation: Listen, Learn, Act. These are three critical areas that need to be developed and supported for true inclusivity to take hold. We created associate listening sessions to provide a safe space for Black associates to have open and candid dialogue with PVH senior leaders. To have true empathy, you need to know what someone is going through.

To gain additional knowledge and insights around issues like systemic racism and how it’s negatively impacted people of colour, we developed a bi-weekly series of learning resources focused on racism, bias and inclusion. Last but certainly not least, we must take action. We launched our first ever global giving campaign where associates around the world came together for charities that support justice and equality. It’s not a one–and-done solution. It will take a sustained commitment by our entire organisation to drive inclusion, and we are committed in doing just that.

Sindhu Culas, SVP, Head of E-Commerce, Calvin Klein in North America. PVH.

Sindhu Culas — Senior Vice President, Head of E-commerce, Calvin Klein in North America

Since 2016, Sindhu has overseen all aspects of e-commerce across Calvin Klein’s owned platform,, and third-party businesses such as Amazon. She is co-Chair of PVH’s UPWARD chapter in NYC.

What is your role at PVH?

I head up the e-commerce business for Calvin Klein, North America, in the underwear group. I’ve been here for four years and every day I push myself and my teams to continuously learn about this evolving space. I get to learn and be curious every day. I’m rewarded for just being who I am.

PVH has given me that power to show up as myself — to be positive and confident, but also vulnerable. To be vulnerable means to feel safe, which in turn allows you to be candid with what’s working and not working, to explore uncharted territory. I think the BRGs are an offshoot of PVH’s provision of a safe environment.

How does UPWARD operate globally?

When we first started, it was a small group of us doing all of the legwork. Now, we have tapped into what I call the Army of the Willing. We have a leadership committee that is able to take on a lot of the heavy lifting, and they’re able to tap into a large community of people who want to help out.

We also have chapters across the company in New York, New Jersey, Hong Kong, the India Sub-Continent and Amsterdam. That helps because the leadership teams within each region can lean in.

Every individual is valued, and we recognise that good ideas can come from anyone at any point.

It’s coming from the top down because Manny and Stefan recognise the importance in what they say and how they show up has such a big influence. We asked Stefan to join us for a Q&A in our book club following the publication of a case study of his work at Old Navy — he booked in for half an hour but stayed for over an hour and a half. I think that sends a powerful message that we’re building a community together.

What are you focused on to drive further inclusivity at PVH?

UPWARD offers learning workshops, networking sessions and speaker events to provide associates with the tools and resources to build their skills and professional brand. Gender representation at all levels of management is an important benchmark of inclusivity and UPWARD is committed to empowering female associates to reach their professional goals.

How do you believe PVH demonstrates a culture of inclusivity?

Every individual is valued, and we recognise that good ideas can come from anyone at any point. I think that in and of itself means people can be leaders at any level of seniority. It’s part of our DNA. Having the stomach to say “yes” to testing lots of new ideas is also really tough but it’s something that we hold as a core value at PVH. If we don’t test, we don’t learn, and we’ll never evolve or stay relevant. As long as you come in with a strong and fact-based point of view, as long as your tests are measured and you know what the repercussions of a success and a failure look like, the company will support you.

This is a sponsored feature paid for by PVH Corp. as part of a BoF partnership.

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