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Macy’s CEO and Sustainability VP Discuss Working For a Sustainable Future with a $5 Billion Plan

Tony Spring and Keelin Evans discuss Macy’s Inc.’s objectives and accomplishments through its social purpose platform called Mission Every One.

Macy’s CEO and Sustainability VP Discuss Working For a Sustainable Future with a $5 Billion Plan

The Macy’s Herald Square flagship.

At Macy’s Inc., there’s a social purpose platform called Mission Every One with a $5 billion commitment that’s focused on creating a more equitable and sustainable future.

It’s a platform to not only make the world a better place with a healthier environment, but also improve Macy’s business and increase its relevancy. Mission Every One runs through 2025 and continues to pursue lofty ambitions on the sustainability front.

“We know our current and future customers expect sustainable products, and our goal is to offer products that are easy to find in the overall shopping experience,” said Tony Spring, Macy’s Inc. chairman and chief executive officer, during his conversation with Keelin Evans, Macy’s vice president of sustainability and responsible sourcing, at the WWD Sustainability Summit.

Macy’s CEO and Sustainability VP Discuss Working For a Sustainable Future with a $5 Billion Plan

Tony Spring with Keelin Evans at WWD’s Sustainability Summit.

“Mission Every One has created a framework to challenge and encourage our colleagues to value this work in their strategies and operations and decision-making,” Spring said. “Every individual in the company has this opportunity to be involved.”

Mission Every One has partnered with Planet Water, the World Wildlife Fund, the Reimagining Industry for Sustainability and Equity organization, selecting “sustainability ambassadors” across the organization, and upping the percentage of “preferred” materials used in producing private brand merchandise, Evans said.

“We actually just implemented our first water tower in a community in India,” Evans said. “Our team from our India office was able to be part of the installation, working in a schoolyard to create this water tower and bringing clean water access and hygiene to students. What’s also amazing is that it’s in a community not too far from factories producing Macy’s private product.” Macy’s partnership with Planet Water, formed just this year, aims to promote clean water stations in communities that need them.

“We’re also working with the World Wildlife Fund. to help us with water stewardship,” Evans said. “We want to do more in the communities where we’re producing carbon product. They will help us create a philosophy and policy around water stewardship, and are helping us on the ground, again in India, as our first focus to drive water reduction.

Macy’s CEO and Sustainability VP Discuss Working For a Sustainable Future with a $5 Billion Plan

Tony Spring

“Those two partnerships complement each other, and so we’re not just focused on the factory itself. It’s really what’s the impact to the community,” said Evans. “Planet Water and the WWF together help us stand up for what are we doing and manage our water intake and our water responsibility.

Macy’s CEO and Sustainability VP Discuss Working For a Sustainable Future with a $5 Billion Plan

Keelin Evans

Evans also said Macy’s has been working with RISE (Reimagining Industry to Support Equality) for the past few years to help implement worker well-being programs in factories. “These programs focus largely on the female worker,” who comprise a majority of the workforce in the apparel supply chain, Evans said. “What these programs let us do is train these workers on things like nutrition, opening a savings account, personal finance, personal health care, things we might take for granted . . . We get to hear their stories of what this training means to them, what it means for being more productive at work, and also at home with families.”

Evans said she has “a really strong relationship” with Macy’s private brand team. “Having their support has been integral in terms of driving priorities like preferred materials.”

Sustainability has been on the Macy’s agenda for more than 10 years, Evans said. “It really started out from colleague committees. The passion was scattered across different parts of the organization. So a few years ago, we recognized the need to come together and create a real center of excellence around sustainability so our team is able to help guide and build cohesion around what our ambitions are, the work we’re doing, and how do we connect multiple parts of this organization. We know that the consumer expects a lot from companies like ours. They want to not only be able to shop for sustainable branded products, but they also want to support businesses that align with their values.”

Last year, Macy’s launched sustainability ambassadors. “Each member of our corporate strategy group identified one to two leaders from their function who can come together, and through roundtables and discussions with my team and with each other, really help us align on our ambitions, how we deliver on this work, what are we going to stand for, and how can we learn from each other. The sustainability ambassadors have been so critical in pulling that all together for us.

“Private brands, as one of our starting places, is where we really leaned into the training and the education needed to make colleagues aware . . . that they can drive this into the decision-making. It can be part of their day-to-day, and then through that, they start to see it’s not a burden. It’s not a plus. It’s not more. It’s actually part of what I am doing.”

“Many of us have this very myopic view that we’re really just talking about sustainable products, or electric vehicles, or we’re really just talking about CO2. In reality, we’re talking about everything,” said Spring. “You can pick what part you want to get involved in, but you have to get involved.”

Spring said he was impressed with how Macy’s Inc.’s enterprise-wide sustainability commitments showed up in the private brand work in 2023, indicating that 35 percent of the private brand assortment was produced utilizing preferred materials, up from just 3 percent in 2022. “This work is ultimately positive for our planet, but also speaks directly to what customers’ wants and needs are, as we work to try to reimagine our total private brand portfolio,” said Spring.

“The work to engage our colleagues and promote sustainability through partnerships and initiatives is invaluable to Macy’s Inc.,” the CEO added. “I encourage all of our peers and competitors to lead with authenticity on their respective sustainability journeys. This work takes a village and with the proper roadmap, resources and team, the positive impact of this work can resonate across an entire organization.

“Retail is a team sport, and we need to work together to see opportunities and learn from each other, with the common goal of offering our customers the shopping experience that they want while managing our environmental impact. When we get this right, we will add value and resiliency to our business and create a deeper connection with the next generation of customers,” Spring said.