Phoenix: Reimagining Human Resources Leadership to Drive Advancement

“We’ve put the retail employment sector on the map in this region. Some of the big wins are knowing that partners point to us when others want to know about retail talent development, going in front of the legislature and getting great support, and engaging our community-based workforce development partners, including our two workforce boards. Being able to participate in Reimagine Retail layered new dimensions into our work — job quality and employer practices got more infused into how we thought about supporting incumbent workers.”

— Holly Kurtz, Director, RetailWorks AZ with the Center for the Future of Arizona

Holly Kurtz, Director of RetailWorksAZ with the Center for the Future of Arizona, speaks to local practitioners about improving mobility in the retail sector.

Holly Kurtz, Director of RetailWorksAZ with the Center for the Future of Arizona, speaks to local practitioners about improving mobility in the retail sector.

In Phoenix, the Center for the Future of Arizona (CFA) is altering perceptions of the region’s retail sector and helping retailers change their approach to upskilling. In 2017, CFA launched RetailWorks AZ to research and implement innovative approaches to improve mobility for the region’s retail workforce. CFA has since raised awareness among policymakers and leaders in the public workforce system of the importance of this sector to the local economy, and the center has become the regional hub for retail employment information. Led by a former Human Resources (HR) executive who oversaw talent management functions for two Fortune 500 companies, RetailWorks AZ had the advantage of bringing significant industry experience and credibility as it began reaching out to retailers. A centerpiece of CFA’s work is the Retail Employer Network (REN), a peer group of 15 retail HR leaders who meet regularly to share upskilling strategies, building their knowledge of workforce practices that enhance both job quality and career advancement.

With technical assistance from Aspen EOP and CSW, CFA has encouraged the REN to recognize the business value of workforce practices that increase retention and diversity. CFA has also built capacity to conduct research with business partners, including leading focus groups with frontline workers about their experiences in the workplace in order to inform employer practice change.

 

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Reimagine Retail explores ways to enhance job quality and improve mobility for the retail workforce. Reimagine Retail is a project of the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program. Learn how EOP is helping low- and moderate-income Americans and thrive in a changing economy. Join our mailing list and follow us on social media to learn about events, publications, blog posts, and more.