Taking the Lead: Target Team Puts the Spotlight on Strong Women and their Stories

April 1, 2016 - Article reads in
Members of the Women's Business Council with Brian Cornell and Roxanne Austin before an event.

Earlier this month, hundreds of team members gathered at Target Plaza Commons in Minneapolis to join Target CEO Brian Cornell and board member Roxanne Austin for a fireside chat on seizing the opportunities that arise when a company is transforming. Roxanne’s no stranger to change—she’s held leadership roles at multiple companies, including Move Networks, Inc., DIRECTV, Inc. and Hughes Electronics Corporation, and served on Target’s board for more than 10 years, including as interim chair in 2014.

As she told stories from her past, Roxanne shared valuable advice with the team about work-life balance (“Insist on making time for the people and things you love, even if you have to schedule it.”), driving your own career, and working with others to create an inclusive team atmosphere. The best way to start? “Don’t be afraid to ask questions and start a discussion. You can’t change something if you’re not talking about it,” Roxanne said. “And speak up if you see something happening that needs to change. We all have to be a champion for other people.”

Roxanne and Brian sitting onstage during the event.

The event was hosted by Target’s Women’s Business Council as part of a series of Women’s History Month activities that put strong women in the spotlight to share their stories. One of six diversity and inclusion business councils at Target, the WBC supports team members as they develop their careers, raises awareness and encourages our team as we build a culture of inclusivity. Members often work with planning teams to share insights that help our business. And the group plans events and activities throughout the year to get the team involved in the community.

“Our goal was to find speakers who could inspire us all,” says Vanessa Coe, a member of the WBC’s board of directors. “It was about spotlighting women who take risks, go up against the odds and pursue success. Lots of themes emerged, like having courage, being bold, understanding consumers, and evolving or transforming companies. And each of the women we brought in shared personal stories and advice that we all could learn from.”

Other WBC events included a visit from theSkimm co-founders and CEOs Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg as part of Target’s Outer Spaces series of innovation talks. (Read more about it here.)

The three panelists discuss in front of a roomful of attendees.

The WBC also teamed up with Target’s Citizen’s Council for a panel discussion with three local public leaders—Wendy Underwood, a member of Target’s Assets Protection team who serves on several local government committees; Rebecca Otto, Minnesota State Auditor; and Susan Haigh, president of Habitat for Humanity. They discussed the challenges and opportunities women in public service face every day. They also shared stories of collaborating with peers and using their skills and determination to create inclusive solutions and non-partisan policies—and inspire future generations to get involved.

A team member speaks in front of a big screen to a full audience of technologists.

Teams from other areas of the company hosted events as well. On March 10, our headquarters Talent Acquisition team held Target’s first-ever meetup of women in engineering, science and technology careers. At the event, two of Target’s leaders—Anu Jain and Meredith Jordan—and their teams spoke about their journeys in technology and the work they’re doing now. They also showcased some of the ways we use technology and data throughout our business—from the technical engineering behind our systems to the big data that drives our supply chain—and networked with other local technologists.

“We’re so excited to share what’s going on at Target, specifically in supply chain and big data,” said Meredith. “Transforming into a digital retail company is no small feat, and getting products into our guests’ hands is all about supply chain utilizing data intelligence. It’s the bones of our omnichannel strategy.”

Learn more about how Target teams celebrate diversity and inclusion all year long.

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