Alan Lacy

Alan Lacy

Chairman, Chief Executive Officer

Sears, Roebuck and Co.

“Research has shown that diverse organizations are consistently more creative, produce higher quality products, and achieve better returns for shareholders. Their products and services are also more appealing to a diverse customer base. We believe it is essential that vendors who provide service to Sears, including lawyers, must reflect the diversity and inclusiveness that are an inherent part of our culture. This can only result in a win-win situation for our customers, our associates, and our shareholders.”

According to Chairman and CEO Alan Lacy, “diversity is not just the right thing to do at Sears, it is a business imperative.” Furthermore, “it gives companies a competitive edge in the marketplace. At every level, we need to look and think like our customers to truly understand and satisfy their needs.” In order to integrate diversity as a business imperative into Sears’ business strategies, Sears has created strategic programs that drive an inclusive corporate culture through clear communication of the diversity principles, talent and performance management systems that integrate diversity into their structures, and executive report cards, which make management accountable for upholding the diversity values critical to their business unit.

Moreover, Mr. Lacy takes personal responsibility for this programming by integrating diversity into all communication out of his office, “I am working to make it a part of the corporate vocabulary. For instance, ‘Be a diverse, high-performance team,’ is one of our four corporate priorities.”

In reflecting on the complexity of diversity within corporations, Mr. Lacy recognizes that creating an awareness of diversity sometimes has to precede the personal commitment to diversity on behalf of leaders: “We’ve established an awarenessof the business case for diversity…Our next steps are focused on ensuring understanding that leads to new behaviors. Toward that end, senior leaders recently participated in a half-day diversity workshop. One key outcome: personal commitment to actions supporting diversity from each leader.”

Mr. Lacy communicates his personal and business commitment to diversity as a priority for the law firms Sears retains and states that: “the firms we retain know that diversity is an essential part of the criteria that we use to evaluate them. Our commitment to diversity is clearly stated in the retainer letter each law firm must sign before receiving any assignments from Sears. In addition, we monitor both the fees paid by Sears to minority- and women-owned firms, as well as hours billed by minorities and women working in majority firms.”

Anastasia Kelly, senior vice president and general counsel for Sears, reaffirms Sears’ intrinsic respect for diversity, “I have always found that we, as lawyers, are most creative when there is diversity of thought around the table. When we bring very different backgrounds, cultures, and educational experiences to our professional lives, we not only do a better job for our business partners, but we also are able to enrich our own professional lives.”

Mrs. Kelly further affirms the effect of Mr. Lacy’s commitment on the legal department’s ability to assert diversity as a priority for itself and the law firms it retains. “We all look up to and listen to the CEO, and when he or she leads by example and also makes it clear that diversity is important to the company, it reinforces the importance of the effort, and gives it an impetus and an imprimatur that makes accomplishing our goals easier.”

Return to Diversity in Dollars and $ense: CEOs Speak Out on the Business Case for the 21st Century

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