Shawn Outler is Macy’s chief diversity officer. One of the first to hold the position – she was appointed to her current role before 2020’s social justice reckoning — the retail veteran has forged a bold blueprint for diversity, equity and inclusion in the fashion industry.
The Queens native and Syracuse graduate started her career as a buyer at Lord & Taylor, and climbed to a divisional vice president role. She joined Macy’s in 2009 as group vice president of multicultural merchandising and vendor development. In 2011 she launched The Workshop at Macy’s, one of the industry’s longest-running vendor development programmes, aimed at elevating the next generation of diverse merchants and vendors. Outler then worked her way to executive vice president of licensed businesses, pricing and multicultural strategy and operations at Macy’s in 2017, and was appointed chief diversity officer in 2019. She pushed the firm to overhaul its strategy in an effort to establish better representation of gender, ethnicity, age, size and disabled persons in its advertising; more diversity at the senior director level and a more diverse supply chain. In 2020, Macy’s was one of the first retailers to sign on to Aurora James ’ Fifteen Percent Pledge.
Outler steered the 2021 launch of Icons of Style, a fashion collaboration with Black creatives featuring exclusive designs. In March, the executive led the launch of Mission Every One, an effort which will see the retailer commit $5 billion through 2025 toward creating a more equitable and sustainable future. Outside of Macy’s, she helps people of colour prepare for executive leadership roles through her non-profit Black Retail Action Group. She has been featured in Cosmopolitan, Black Enterprise and Upscale magazines.