Today, the global workforce is increasingly looking for an environment in which they can recognise their values and foster a sense of belonging at work. A 2020 LinkedIn Survey found 47 percent of respondents care that companies foster environments where they can be themselves.
Recognising the significance of an inclusive culture guided by shared values, PVH’s leadership spearheaded the company’s research in 2014 to better understand what unites its more than 30,000 associates around the world in their work and purpose.
The apparel company consulted its teams operating in over 40 countries across nine fashion brands — from Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein to heritage brands including Van Heusen, Izod and Arrow — to identify five core values that embodied their workforce: individuality, partnership, passion, integrity and accountability.
From their individual employee training resources at PVH University and the manifestation of their business resource groups to the selection process of partnering companies, be that suppliers, contractors or business partners, PVH bakes these five core values into the daily work, operations and employee development strategies.
Now, BoF sits down with PVH’s chief people officer Julie Fuller to better understand how the apparel company operates within the parameters of its values — and how their recruitment process seeks to build upon its bedrock of values to drive an inclusive culture for all associates.
How do you use PVH’s values to inform global operations?
Our values were created and defined from the ground up with our associates — that helps create the power of PVH. The values help to bring together associates from all parts of our business across the world — a consistent thread. The work that the brands do every day is to tie those experiences together, so we don’t have different views for our consumers and for our associates.
Then, in the consumer space, you can think about our long-standing history of Calvin Klein campaigns like CK One Campaign, and how they have addressed the needs of consumers when it comes to inclusion and diversity, giving a voice to underrepresented groups. Tommy Hilfiger has an adaptive line that takes direct input from consumers with disabilities to help make our products more accessible to individual consumers.
For our associates, we can’t just talk about our values — we have to tie them in to tangible things. For example, we try to offer individuality by providing customised benefits. We segment the workforce to see where we have gaps in our benefits and map our associate segments to different benefits. In 2020, we added some virtual care management programmes in our healthcare offerings, for example.
How do you see PVH associates connecting values to the company’s purpose of driving fashion forward for good?
I think we have associates who are proud of our purpose and the last year is a perfect example of seeing those values emerge and how our people have connected their passion to new ways of working through some challenging times. For example, we have increased our usage of 3D design, digital showrooms, sustainable materials, and delivered more than six million units of PPE. Those are examples of how our associates’ passion for PVH has shown up during a really intense time for the company.
In the inclusion and diversity space, for example, we’ve worked with industry peers to drive change. Tommy Hilfiger launched People’s Place Program, which is a platform that seeks to advance representation of BIPOC communities within our industry. As we’re doing our own work, we want to partner with our peers in the industry to advance the industry.
While working from home, how have you maintained buy in to those five core values?
It has been challenging but we’ve been trying to create opportunities to connect in the virtual environment. Our Let’s Talk series brings leaders and associates together, where we talk about difficult but important topics that encourage an open dialogue.
Our business resource groups (BRGs) have played a key role in creating a connection during the virtual environment. When you think about our value individuality, that’s about inclusive culture, and our BRGs — including a group for our Black associates, Hispanic and Latinx associates, LGBTQIA+ associates, women and working parents — have helped us come together through challenging moments during the last year with events and conversations. We have also partnered with those BRGs through our learning platform PVH University, like learning about allyship or working from home with kids.
How has leadership demonstrated buy-in to these core values?
We have a global Inclusion & Diversity (I&D) council chaired by CEO Stefan Larsson and led by Lance LaVergne, our chief diversity officer and SVP of global talent acquisition and associate experience, that includes senior leaders across the company. These leaders are holding themselves accountable to lead an agenda that is committed to these areas. Being more transparent in the CR report is a good example, alongside the CFDA research and insights that are helping to inform the I&D commitments that we’re making and that we track our progress against.
We won’t be successful if we’re not grounded in values, because our associates and our consumers are who make us successful.
Our value of integrity is also about doing the right thing across stakeholder groups. We have the PVH Foundation that addresses the communities in which we work and live, and gives to causes that matter. Some examples of support for our associates would be the Associate Relief Fund, which provides financial support to eligible associates going through personal hardship.
Another area I’ve seen more recently as Stefan Larsson has come into the CEO role is his focus on leading as one team. We win together as a team. That comes back to partnership, that we work as a team and we co-create the future of PVH together has been really important. I’ve seen our leaders really lean into and demonstrate that.
How did PVH’s values influence your decision to work at PVH?
When you think about the world today, the lines have become blurred between our work and our lives, so for me, it was a huge priority to be in a values-driven organisation. It was a non-negotiable on anywhere I would consider going. I was drawn to PVH for the focus on people and values — it was a glaring theme in my interviews when I was talking to the company and all raised it in a way that was authentic and clear.
Taking it a step further to my job and the role I play, our associates and our consumers — people — are at the core. We won’t be successful if we’re not grounded in values, because our associates and our consumers are who make us successful. The last year has just accelerated the need for things like authenticity and transparency. Any company that isn’t grounded in values will be challenged.
What does each value mean to you and your work as chief people officer?
Individuality, to me, exemplifies the fact that everyone can contribute and every voice should be heard. Good ideas can come from anywhere. I often find myself saying, forget the hierarchy and forget the org charts — what’s important is to have the right voices in the discussion.
We look for candidates who align with our values — who exemplify our values.
Passion is what brings excitement to people’s work. It’s so important to engage our associates so they want to work around a vision and get excited about the future of PVH. One of the biggest themes that I heard in my onboarding was, ‘We’re a big company, but we still feel small in some ways.’ I think that connects to the passion piece.
We are also working as one team — partnership. We work to break down silos and it comes back to getting the right voices in the right conversations. Integrity then highlights that what matters is how you do your work — and holding ourselves accountable to that. Being honest with ourselves, owning our outcomes, learning from our mistakes — we want to have a learning orientation and be accountable for the commitments that we make.
How do these values guide your recruitment processes today?
We look for candidates who align with our values — who exemplify our values. Taking the example of partnership, we look for people who will co-create and be collaborative, who will work as a team regardless of their title, function or their level within the organisation. I would take it further to say, someone who doesn’t bring that collaborative style, or who comes in without listening, would struggle to be successful at PVH.
As we’re interviewing and talking to talent, we want to make sure that that’s something they would bring to be successful because we want to hire people who we think will be successful within PVH. But we understand that everyone brings the values to life in a different way, which is why individuality is key.
This is a sponsored feature paid for by PVH Corp. as part of a BoF Careers partnership.