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News & Blogs: 5 Questions

5 Questions with Shawntee Reed

Wednesday, May 09, 2012  
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Director, Diversity and Community Relations
Sears Holdings Corporation

"We focus on three strategic pillars:
Workplace, community and marketplace.”

As director of diversity and inclusion programs and community relations at Sears Holdings Corporation, Shawntee Reed is responsible for the strategic development, planning and management of the diversity and community engagement function. She works with the human resources and public affairs teams and senior management to educate, engage and execute companywide brand and reputation management strategies. She also facilitates external diverse recruitment efforts and internal initiatives to develop female and diverse talent through education and development programs. Reed began her career as an operations manager, later moving into project management and human resources. Prior to joining Sears Holdings in 2009, she was corporate talent vice president for JPMorgan Chase. In 2011, Reed joined Columbia University as an adjunct professor.

What can you tell us about WiLD?

Women in Leadership Development, or WiLD, is the women’s associate resource group at Sears Holdings. Our mission is to bring meaningful input to Sears Holdings by channeling the unique attributes and perspectives of all women. We focus on three strategic pillars: workplace, community and marketplace. This is delivered through our leadership and development training and seminars, opportunities to lead project initiatives that add value to selection and marketing of products, recruitment and mentoring through networking opportunities, and community philanthropic involvement. Participation is open to all associates.

How does participating in WiLD enhance women’s skills and visibility in the company?

By volunteering on one of the WiLD committees, members gain leadership skills, including project management, financial and budget management, presentation delivery and strategic programming, while working with senior business leaders.

How does WiLD support Sears’ diversity and inclusion goals?

The value proposition for associate resource groups is to provide a platform for diversity, inclusiveness, support, education and mentoring opportunities. WiLD is an integral part of our company’s talent development efforts. Sears Holdings is an inclusive and diverse organization, demonstrated through the strategic programs administered through our resource groups. 

How does Sears’ leadership team support WiLD?

WiLD and other resource groups typically have one or two senior executive sponsors who provide support through advocacy and strategic direction. In addition, WiLD has an advisory board made of three senior women executives who provide oversight for our vision, strategy, budget and programming initiatives. Management is encouraged to support associate participation in all of the company’s associate resource group events.

How is a WiLD member’s life or career enhanced by participating in the group?

Cathy Mathers, divisional vice president, merchandising, recently transitioned to the chair position, after serving as co-chair for the last year. She has said how she feels she is making an impact to advance the company’s diversity and inclusion agenda and WiLD has given her a much larger platform than ever before. She has met many people from all areas of the company, at many different levels. The group has made her visible to many senior managers whom she otherwise would not have had the opportunity to be exposed to.

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