Saks Hires Lori Spicer Robertson As Its First Diversity And Inclusion Executive
by Trennie L. Williams, StarNewsVIP.com
Another Memphian is making a mark in the global market.
Saks Fifth Avenue has named Lori Spicer Robertson vice president of diversity and inclusion.
Robertson’s new role includes creating and leading strategic initiatives that foster a culture of equity, diversity and inclusion.
“We have been focused on expanding our diversity and inclusion initiatives at Saks Fifth Avenue, which includes developing the right strategies for each function of our business so that D&I is threaded throughout the entire company,” Garber said Monday, when Robertson joined Saks. “Lori’s leadership and deep expertise in the D&I space across a number of sectors will help accelerate this work to ensure we’re creating a culture of equity, diversity and inclusion for all of our associates, customers and partners. This is a pivotal time for driving change.”
Robertson has a vision that matches Saks’ overall goal. She sees her new position as an opportunity to serve, ensuring that the upscale retailer “capitalizes on a revolutionary human experience through the lens of diversity and inclusion.”
“While some companies are pausing to see what will happen next, industry mavericks are pivoting to seize a new path forward,” Robertson said. “Everyday it becomes more and more prevalent the value of the human experience in the place of work and how this adds to the success or demise of our best companies.”
Robertson, a native of Memphis, Tenn., graduated from White Station High School, earning her bachelor’s degree at University of Tennessee-Knoxville; and her master’s degree from the University of Florida.
She returned to her beloved hometown Memphis in 2007, with a strong desire to promote change in the residential and corporate community. Robertson took on several key positions over the years, such as being a manager of Change Leadership for First Horizon National Corporation; manager of Community Affairs and Engagement/ Volunteer Services for Regional One Health (then known as Regional Medical Center-The MED); Communications Specialist and Editor-in-Chief of Memphis Crossroads Magazine at the Greater Memphis Chamber; and most recently Chief Communications and Engagement Officer of United Way of the Mid-South.
“As the Manager, Change Leadership for FHNC/First Tennessee Bank, my journey really began as a student of diversity and inclusion, but my tenure ended as a teacher to a very seasoned group of financial executives and leaders,” said Robertson. “In this capacity, I was charged with developing the very first diversity and inclusion strategy for the entire footprint of FHNC, which I divided into manageable categories—workforce, workplace and marketplace. I launched the first Inclusion and Diversity Council, developed a training model to help leaders better invest in diverse talent, established a diversity dashboard with metrics for all business functions, increased the company spend with MWBEs in partnership with procurement, developed the first diversity annual report for the board of directors, launched the diversity champions program to allow employees in various markets to define their inclusion and diversity involvement, started the Employee Resource Group Council to better support and provide consistency to the ERGs across the market, and many other strategies.
“In my role of chief communications and engagement officer at United Way of the Mid-South, I had the opportunity to explore the intersection of race, poverty and equity as we developed a system of care to advance the most vulnerable in our community out of poverty and into the life of their dreams. The engagement side of my role afforded me the opportunity to work with United Way Worldwide on the implementation of an Equity Atlas, to establish the first inclusion, equity and diversity summit for the United Way network, to serve as the Memphis cohort for the Divided Community Project with Ohio State University and to serve on the Annie E. Casey Foundation Southern Cities for Economic Inclusion Memphis cohort. My role had an expansive view of engagement and includes employee engagement; diversity and inclusion; and culture shaping – in this capacity, I developed the organizations’ first employee council called the Culture Crew.”
In February 2013, she conceptualized and chaired the inaugural Modern Day Women’s Conference for the Women’s Foundation of a Great Memphis, attended by over 150 women, with two national speakers, from various backgrounds and ethnicities. Robertson has also hosted the citywide Memphis Prom Closet that includes a month-long dress drive and a finale Prom Party that offers financially challenged teenage girls a chance to attend prom.
Additionally, she launched Brown Girl Dreams, a self-awareness program that she developed for high school girls that aims to empower self-esteem, promote leadership skills and cultivate volunteerism in our youth through community service and enrichment programming.
To continue her pursuit of compassionate leadership, Robertson has served as the chair of the Government Structure and Metrics Committee for Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris’ Transition Team; is a 2018 Memphis Business Journal Super Women in Business, is in Leadership Memphis’ 40th Anniversary Executive Class; and board member for Momentum Nonprofit Partners. She previously served as a 2013 National Urban League Emerging Leader; Leadership Memphis Fast Tracker (2008), and New Memphis Institute S14 Fellow; and served on the boards of Memphis Symphony Orchestra; Pink Palace Family of Museums; Memphis Cook Convention Center; Girls, Inc.; Girl Scouts; the Fairgrounds Redevelopment/Re-Use Committee; Memphis Urban League and Memphis Urban League Young Professionals; Soulsville Neighborhood Association; Minority Business Development and Oversight Commission (MBDOC) and Young Women Philanthropists – an auxiliary of the Women’s Foundation.
One of her creations, prior to her role at Saks, is Wundher, a digital media and experiential production company “to reconnect mothers and women to their joy.”
“Wundher was birthed out of my necessity to draw nearer to the things and people that brought me joy,” said Robertson. In order to show up as my best self, I am most fulfilled when I see mothers and women make themselves a priority.”
Robertson, above all of her corporate and community involvement, is the wife to her fellow community advocate Eric Robertson, and they are proud parents to two amazing boys – Liam and Emory.
Lori Spicer Robertson lives by her personal family motto of living in your vision and not your circumstances.
Her responsibilities at Saks includes working with an executive team and corporate leaders while establishing and overseeing programs that help foster equality and fair treatment of employees, vendors and customers. Enhancing diversity and inclusion awareness will be her primary focus.
Saks emphasizes that its diversity and inclusion priority is “to amplify underrepresented voices in its content including how products are selected and how customers are treated in stores…to foster a diverse, inclusive workplace aligned with organizational missions, values, goals, business practices and objectives.”
“My varied career path of experience has best prepared me for this role as your VP, Diversity & Inclusion,” Robertson said. “I am honored to join Saks Fifth Avenue on advancing through this new world of necessary and progressive change.”