2nd Annual Best Practices in Diversity & Inclusion

28-30 January 2020  | Austin, Texas

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Jeremy Wise

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You will be giving a solo presentation on the topic, “Driving Inclusion: For the Business, By the Business,” what are some key takeaways attendees can expect from your session?

My hope is that attendees walk away from the session feeling not only inspired to drive inclusion within their businesses, but full of ideas for where and how they can do so tactically.  I also hope to make the impact of inclusion incredibly real for people.  As a retailer, the impact of being inclusive means that I can help empower everyone, no matter who they are and what they look like, to feel good in their clothes.  As a woman of color, I’ve utilized my own personal experiences to help bring that to life. There’s nothing more rewarding.

What are some of the main challenges with measuring D&I efforts in an organization?

In many traditional business models, KPIs (or Key Performance Indicators) are directly tied to the revenue and margin driving engines for your company.  For example, in retail we can track our business down to the hour to understand if we’re hitting our sales expectations, and make decisions across function (merchandising, inventory management, marketing, etc.) based on those expectations both pre-season and in-season.  When it comes to D&I, organizations must be comfortable thinking outside of the box to find metrics that help move the needle, but that teams can also be held accountable for.  These metrics won’t be as easily attainable, and sometimes require a mix of quantitative and qualitative analysis to push through, but accountability is key, so the execution of these efforts can be understood and prioritized across the organization.

How would you define “Inclusion”? And how do you try to measure and assess it within your organization?

Someone once told me that “diversity” is being invited to the party, but “inclusion” is being asked to dance.  That resonated so deeply with me because within an organization it’s not just about being in the room where the magic happens, but rather being empowered to stay, contribute, and drive the business forward.  Through the Color Proud Council at Gap Inc., we are measuring and assessing who is in the room within our product functions specifically, and then pushing for more representation of our customer in that room at every level.  This requires a great deal of transparency from our leaders within every product function, but also from employees as we ask them to share their experiences so we can pinpoint where our greatest opportunities lay.

What are some of the trends emerging within Diversity and Inclusion that you’re looking forward to discussing at the event? How has the space evolved in the past year?

Being in retail, I’m excited to discuss how the fashion industry over the last few years has reacted to the customer’s unyielding expectations around what it means to be inclusive from both a product and a talent perspective.  The fashion industry has always been a fickle one, as change is constant due to the evolution of trends.  That said, inclusion is not a trend, it’s a mandate – a mandate that we must respond to authentically to be better for our employees and our customers.  I’m looking forwarding to utilizing my experience in this space to help draw correlations across various industries.

What key drivers motivated you to participate in this conference? What do you hope to gain?

I’m motivated by the fact that the conversation is happening in the first place.  As purveyors of this space, it’s important that we arm ourselves with the information and resources available to help promote D&I within our organizations.  I’m hoping to gain new tools, sharpen old ones, and further drive the work with my team once I return home.  See you in Texas!


Ahead of the 2nd Annual Best Practices in Diversity and Inclusion Conference, we spoke with Bahja Johnson, Director of Global Merchandising at Banana Republic. In her current role, Bahja leads omni-channel product assortment strategies across multiple departments within the Men’s merchandising organization. In addition to her merchandising experience, Bahja is a passionate product inclusion leader.  In 2018, Bahja co-founded The Color Proud Council, Gap Inc.’s first product diversity initiative, with the mission of bringing diversity to the bottom line of the business by improving product education and pipeline, as well as talent acquisition and retention. Bahja holds a B.S. in Economics from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.  She enjoys dance and yoga in her spare time, and is an avid Los Angeles Rams fan.


Case Study: Driving Inclusion: For the Business, By the Business
•Using your voice to ignite a spark and drive company-wide movement
Driving enterprise integration through cross-functional partnerships
•Providing tools and resources to make more inclusive product decisions
•Instituting pipeline checks to integrate diversity into the product lifecycle