Our Path Forward: A Message From Our CEO

By: Kontoor Brands News Team Jul 06, 2020 Feature Story Tags: Community, Leadership, Inclusion & diversity

The following message from Kontoor’s CEO, Scott Baxter, was sent earlier today to Kontoor’s global employees.

Kontoor,

Recently, I shared my thoughts about the systemic injustices facing the Black community, along with some of the near-term actions Kontoor is taking in response. With our employee roundtables and discussions on race and inclusion underway, I write to share the early steps Kontoor is taking to create lasting change – for both our employees and our communities.

We Are Listening.

We began formulating our Inclusion & Diversity (I&D) strategy earlier this year, building on thoughts and insights we heard from employees as part of our work to establish Kontoor as a new, publicly traded company in 2019. We knew we had to include measurable goals and accountability, but we also knew that building our I&D strategy in ways that would truly shape Kontoor’s future would only be possible through conversations with our employees and Employee Resources Groups (ERGs), particularly those in underrepresented groups.

We are continuing to host internal roundtables on race and inclusion, which bring new meaning, and even greater importance, to our I&D strategy, which we expect to share later this summer. A member of our Executive Leadership Team joins each roundtable session, to lead the discussion and serve as a champion – showing support and acting as a catalyst for change. I am also participating in these roundtables and am meeting regularly with the leadership of our Diversity Networking Association to hear the ongoing perspectives and ideas. We are fortunate to have an established and engaged ERG network, which we will look to expand across our global organization, creating a grassroots network to foster sustained cross-cultural dialogue, understanding and action. 

Many of you have also written or spoken with me directly. Thank you. I hear you – you are tired, scared, and ready for honest and sincere steps forward that will make a difference and endure. You have my commitment. 

We Are Open. 

Taking a stand against racism, injustice and inequality calls forth painful personal experiences for some of our colleagues. The conversations are not easy, and I am deeply grateful to each of you for the candor and leadership you have demonstrated in sharing your stories and perspectives. It is only through our willingness to speak openly about society’s most tragic faults – and the role we play in perpetuating or eliminating them – that we will drive meaningful change.

We Are Committed.

The development of our I&D strategy is a top priority, and is being designed to achieve several long-term results while also addressing the conversations and feedback we are hearing. Included among the commitments:

  • Workforce Diversity: We will recruit and promote from a more diverse, qualified group of candidates to increase different and innovative thinking and perspective. We’re evaluating our approach to job descriptions, recruitment practices, interview panels, succession planning and more.
  • Workplace Belonging: We will strengthen our culture by emphasizing collaboration, flexibility and fairness to enable all employees to reach their full potential and inspire belonging. This includes further development of our ERGs, as well as adding new mentorship and sponsorship programs.
  • Sustainability and Accountability: We will evaluate and improve our workplace policies, practices and processes to drive accountability for our strategy within all levels of our organization. Now with our first full year as a standalone organization behind us, we are assessing our workforce data and will share more insights later this summer.
  • Marketplace Equity: We will drive inclusion and diversity through our brands by making it foundational to the brand strategy, product development and advertising campaigns.

We Act.

I&D is not a one-off initiative at Kontoor – it’s foundational to who we are and the company we aspire to be. In other words, it’s intrinsic to our purpose: to be the common thread that inspires people to live with passion and confidence. I&D will be a critical part of our long-term strategy and will be managed as any other critical business initiative, including regular updates, metrics and accountability. We will reassess and adjust as we continue on this journey.

While we formalize our I&D strategy, we know we need to act now – both within our walls and in the communities where we operate. In addition to the employee roundtable discussions, we are conducting unconscious bias training with our global workforce in July. This is the start of a series of trainings and programs designed to continue to build workplace belonging at Kontoor. 

Last month, we made a donation to the NAACP. This is just the beginning as we look to build successful partnerships with organizations to be a positive force for good in our communities. Fostering community engagement is a key component of our I&D strategy, and we’re identifying meaningful community partnerships, focused on activities such as mentoring, pro bono services and volunteerism.

We have so much more to do, but there will never be a better time to do the right thing. 

Together we will chart our path forward, one in which everyone is respected and embraced for their unique differences and contributions.

Take care of one another.

Thank you,
Scott