Posted on 8/17/2019 3:39:03 PM
By Jeff Girard, SVP Distribution and Logistics for Designer Brands
Designer Brands’ MySole business resource group has an important mission: To build an awareness of the uniqueness of black culture to attract, educate and include diversity among associates, leaders, and customers. I’m honored to serve as the executive sponsor to this incredibly talented, passionate group of associates and am in awe of their incredible work this year.
In August 2019, MySole supported their non-profit partner, the National African American Male Wellness Initiative Walk at their signature event. The AAWALK raises awareness about preventable diseases impacting men and provides free screenings for diabetes, cholesterol, blood pressure and more. The 2019 event welcomed more than 30,000 participants and the Designer Brands “passion team” was on hand at the event to distribute swag and play games to keep the crowd engaged and enthusiastic. Then we walked the course together.
The team’s passion was ignited last year when our MySole group members attended the walk and became inspired to support the initiative in a bigger way. Over the course of the year, MySole brought merchants from DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse together with the AAMWI leaders to create an exclusive New Balance sneaker (the Nitrel SpeedRide) available at DSW stores in Columbus, Ohio, and on dsw.com., proceeds from which benefit the AAWALK and its mission. They coordinated with AAWALK organizers to host a shoe release party at the Easton DSW store in Columbus to drum up support for the walk, offering free health checks and featuring actor Robert Ri’chard who acted as emcee for the event.
The MySole team went on our local NBC affiliate and “starred” in a morning show segment talking about their support to the event and their work in helping the shoe collaboration.
In the spring, they hosted NAAMWI kick off breakfast at Designer Brands home office to get the campaign off to a good start, and held a series of events for “Walk Week,” leading up to the event to inspire and engage DBI home office associates. From a wellness panel to a boot camp exercise session to a packet pick-up event, the MySole team spread the AAMWI message of health and wellness to associates.
Each year, the African American Male Wellness initiative recognizes an individual or organization with its Health Hero Award. This year, the MySole BRG received the award for “its dedication and commitment to creating culturally diverse programming and activities that support people of color and promote their interests.” The team and I were on hand to accept the award in Columbus on August 8.
MySole capped off the week by attending the Ohio Diversity Council's 2019 Columbus Multicultural Roundtable, where they discussed topics around the theme: "Unity through Diversity & Inclusion: It Begins with All of Us." DSW President Bill Jordan was the opening speaker at the event.
The MySole group is an inspiration, not just for their tireless efforts to support an important cause like wellness in their community, but because they marshalled Designer Brands and DSW resources to support the cause as well and in return had a direct business impact. It’s an incredible testament to the value of our business resource groups. They hold us accountable and keep us focused on our diversity and inclusion objectives, all the while inspiring others. DSW’s mission is to inspire self-expression, and this talented group has certainly inspired me, and others with their work.