Innovation Marks Lowe’s Path to Championing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

by Savoy Staff

Under the leadership of Janice Dupré, Lowe’s launched its first Business Resource Groups, co-founded the Black Information Network and joined the OneTen Coalition.

By Janice Dupré, Executive Vice President of Human Resources, Lowe’s

Lowe’s is one of the world’s largest home improvement retailers, which means effecting change among more than 300,000 global associates is complex and requires transformational leadership.

President and CEO of Lowe’s since July 2018, Marvin R. Ellison built an executive leadership team that demands diverse representation across its leadership to help drive a forward-thinking conversation and a stronger ability to reflect Lowe’s customers. As one of three Black CEOs in the Fortune 500, Ellison knows first-hand that effective diversity and inclusion practices are built on less talk, and more action.

“At Lowe’s, we will remain committed to fostering an environment where all individuals are safe, treated fairly, valued
and respected,” Ellison said. “We are a company with zero tolerance for racism, discrimination, hate, insensitive behavior or violence of any kind.”

Ellison doesn’t lead that charge alone. Executive Vice President of Human Resources Janice Dupré started at Lowe’s as the company’s first Chief Diversity Officer, and Ellison promoted her to lead human resources in Summer 2020. Under her leadership, Lowe’s launched its first Business Resource Groups (BRGs), co-founded the Black Information Network and joined the OneTen Coalition.

Lowe’s commitment to a diverse and inclusive culture extends beyond its associates and into the communities it serves. When the global pandemic struck, more than 180,000 small businesses across America struggled to keep their doors open, while nearly 98,000 have closed their doors permanently amid the COVID-19 global pandemic.

As more and more temporary small business closures became permanent, Lowe’s introduced its Small Business Grant Program, pledging $55 million in grants to minority- and women-owned small businesses and rural businesses hit hardest by COVID-19. “In July, we started to see a seismic shift where temporary closures became permanent,” Dupré said. “By December 2020, Lowe’s had helped more than 2,000 small businesses keep their doors open. The opportunity to find a way to support small businesses, which are the cornerstone of our economy, has been one of the proudest moments in my Lowe’s tenure.”

The home improvement retailer’s commitment also is integrated into how Lowe’s does business – right down to choosing the products on Lowe’s shelves, in-store or online, and who supplies them.

In September 2020, Lowe’s unveiled Making It… With Lowe’s, an invitation to diverse small businesses to pitch their products to the major retailer with just one click. A diverse small business is one with 51 percent ownership by a person who is a minority, member of the LGBTQ community, person with a disability, veteran or woman. The program’s goal was to find the best diverse and innovative products for Lowe’s customers, while supporting small businesses that are the cornerstone of the economy. By spotlighting the challenges diverse entrepreneurs face, Lowe’s program raised awareness that not every small business is created equal.

“These entrepreneurs have overcome obstacles most of us don’t think about every day,” Dupré said. “They’ve faced many challenges like access to funding and the refusal to take them seriously, when they have really good products that serve our customers’ needs. Making It… With Lowe’s is about helping any entrepreneur with a product and a dream to get in front of the leaders of a Fortune 50 company.”

In December 2020, Lowe’s extended its support of diverse entrepreneurs by joining OneTen, a coalition of more than 30 large companies united to help create one million family-sustaining careers for Black Americans over the next 10 years.

Understanding Lowe’s ongoing commitment to culture, diversity and inclusion offers a glimpse at how Lowe’s leadership remains focused on bringing the home improvement retailer’s mission to life: “Together, we will deliver the right home improvement products, with the best service and value, across every channel and community we serve.”

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