By Kristen Harris, Vice President – Diversity and Inclusion, Hallmark Cards, Inc.
Last summer, after more than 13 years with Hallmark—from intern to Supply Chain and Customer Operations Leader—I stepped into the role of Hallmark’s Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion.
This career change occurred while navigating one of the most uncertain and unsettling periods in recent history, amid the surge of a global pandemic and nationwide social unrest. But I decided to accept the challenge for a few reasons. First and foremost, as a Black woman in corporate America raising a family in the urban core of Kansas City, I knew this work would be important and meaningful to me.
Second, although Hallmark’s D&I commitment is inherently embedded in our company’s mission, the events of 2020 issued a clear and resounding call. We have answered that call by taking steps to elevate our work with renewed energy, focus, and accountability.
Also, Hallmark is fortunate to play a uniquely personal role in people’s lives, and we take that seriously. Our commitment to D&I has always inspired new and authentic products, content and experiences: from the 1987 launch of Mahogany, a greeting card line dedicated to Black consumers, to the release of our 2020 Hallmark Channel holiday movie lineup reflecting a wide representation of talent and narratives, including diversity in leading roles and a storyline about a gay couple adopting their first child. Now, we have an opportunity—a responsibility—to elevate our visible commitment to D&I across all of our brands’ touchpoints.
Finally, Hallmark considers an investment in D&I to be an investment in our company’s future. Data proves that companies prioritizing D&I experience better business outcomes. The leaders of our businesses, which include Hallmark Cards, Crayola, and Crown Media, get that and are more committed than ever to embedding this priority across our brands. But this process requires a plan for sustained action; one that will guide us as we continue to create culturally relevant and inclusive products and content, and as we continue to be the place where every employee is able to be their very best.
Our CEO, Mike Perry, took the first step last summer by developing a new diversity and inclusion framework and aligning our businesses around a clear and consistent set of strategies. This integrated approach is a first for Hallmark, enabling us to build a company-wide plan with a shared vision, and shared measures of accountability around key strategic pillars impacting both our employees and how we show up in the marketplace. Our plan was designed to help us make progress in the areas in which we can have lasting impact.
We began the journey with elevated learning for our employees and company leaders because this work starts with having an understanding of how systemic racism and social injustice in our country impacts our communities, our people, and our consumers. This understanding helps channel our empathy and will drive organizational strategies and processes to align the full weight of our collective talent behind our work. We’re also investing in our recruiting and talent development practices because it is important that our D&I ambition and outcomes be in service to our employees first.
In all areas of diversity and inclusion, we’re looking for opportunities to advocate for our consumers, communities, suppliers, and employees. And in all areas, we’re prepared to align our resources to influence necessary and positive changes where we can.
This is meaningful yet challenging work, but also Hallmark’s reason for being. We exist to help deepen human connection and help people live more caring, connected lives full of meaningful moments. Few companies in the world can claim such a privilege—we’re proud to be one of them.