In 2000, Safeway launched its Championing Change for Women: An Integrated Strategy initiative in its U.S. headquarters and retail stores. The initiative—which emphasizes advancing all talent, including women and people of color—features comprehensive career development and mentoring programs, as well as rigorous tracking and accountability systems. Safeway seeks to promote management talent from within, drawing from all levels, including entry-level store employees, to fill its leadership ranks.
Championing Change for Women is supported by Diversity Advisory Boards that work with division and corporate leaders to: provide strategic direction related to diversity and inclusion; observe progress on diversity goals; and play a role in maintaining consistency across locations. The initiative features innovative components, including a mentoring program that requires all managers to mentor diverse talent and the Retail Leadership Development program that trains retail employees to be store managers. In addition, Safeway has powerful network leadership groups for women, African-American, Asian, and Hispanic employees. A variety of formal accountability mechanisms also contribute to the initiative’s success. For example, bonus pay and advancement of all managers reflects their ability to meet diversity goals. District managers also must present results from their balanced workforce goals and diversity scorecards, which include accountability for their mentoring relationships, in regular meetings with senior HR staff.
These accountability mechanisms—along with strong senior leadership support and innovative programs and policies—have led to impressive advances for women at many leadership levels. Since 2000, there has been a 40-percent increase in the representation of women in store management ranks, a 34-percent increase in the representation of white women, and a 65-percent increase in the representation of women of color. The representation of women at the vice president level rose from 12 percent in 2000 to 25 percent in 2005.