HR leaders know that Inclusion & Diversity are integral to a Company’s success – and rightly devote a fair amount of energy to help employees embrace this view.At Kontoor Brands, we’ve had the good fortune to draw upon best practices and lessons learned from others, and to rely on our leadership, our process, and on employees themselves as catalysts for meaningful change.

HR leaders know that Inclusion & Diversity are integral to a Company’s success – and rightly devote a fair amount of energy to help employees embrace this view.At Kontoor Brands, we’ve had the good fortune to draw upon best practices and lessons learned from others, and to rely on our leadership, our process, and on employees themselves as catalysts for meaningful change.

Here are a few of the lessons we’re learning on our journey so far:

Leadership and Advocacy: Bringing Purpose to Life

 Support from the top is essential – but context from the top is even better.Our President and CEO Scott Baxter often points out that Inclusion & Diversity is not a one-off initiative at Kontoor – it’s intrinsic to our purpose to be the common thread that inspires people to live with passion and confidence. Scott chairs our Global Executive I&D Council,and he regularly affirms the strategicimportance of Inclusion & Diversity in shaping our identity and aspirations. Having vocal leadership on these topics provides critical perspective and visibility, and itmakes it easier to encourage employees at every level to be mindful of the ways they support our I&D strategy in their day-to-day work.

Enterprise and Expert Engagement:

Fostering Meaningful Dialogue

Seeking and incorporating new ideas, information and perspectives from our employees and expert partners continues to be vital to our success.We conducted extensive conversations with leaders and others from our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and across our global organization as we were developing our strategy –asking what they wanted to see and what they wanted to happen.While building our strategy earlier this year, we witnessed the senseless death of George Floydand too many others in the Black community. In response, we held a number of virtual roundtable discussions. Thanks to the commitment and candor of our leaders and employees, these sessions were deeply meaningful. We are grateful that our new I&D strategy reflectsmany of the ideas and insights from these important conversations on race and inclusion.

We also recognize that we don’t have all the answers. Early in the process, we engaged a team of students from a local university, to hear their perspective and input. We also began outreach to human rights and equality organizations, as well aslocal nonprofits, to learn and understand from experts and our neighbors. And we relied on our HR network and peers from other companies –asking questions and listening.

Now, we are creating new ways for the conversation to evolve. We’re doing this through our active network of Employee Resource Groups. The ERGs, for example, helped create our onboarding program for new hires and our new mentoring program.We are also launching new Inclusion & Diversity Councils at the global, regional and local levels to champion our I&D strategy and provide additional governance and support.Working in partnership, these groups of colleagues will strengthen the connections between I&D and our business strategy in ways that accelerate our growth as a company.

To enable the conversation to evolve, we must also recognize the discomfort that can occur when we have conversations on topics related to Inclusion & Diversity. That’s where our HR team comes in. Providing the education and tools to help others feel confident, speak with candor and bring their whole selves to work is no small task, and frankly, is one of our most important responsibilities. This can be the difference between maintaining the status quo and forward progress.

Transparency and Accountability: Keeping Inclusion & Diversity at the Forefront

 Transparency builds trust. Our Inclusion & Diversity strategyis featured on our public website.The strategy focuses on four priority areas: Workplace Belonging, Workforce Diversity, Marketplace Equity, and Sustainability & Accountability – and the progress we make toward our goals in each of these areas will be public, as well.We want to keep our consumers, partners, prospective employees, communities, and other stakeholders informed and encourage them to join with us on the journey.And internally, we’re providing robust resources to help employees get and stay involved.

While our journey is just beginning, we believe Inclusion & Diversity can move an organization forward in ways that are true to its values, right for the times, and relevant to stakeholders across every market.Every company can and must do more to advance Inclusion & Diversity, and we are committed to doing our part