Friday, December 16, 2011

A very long story about my 'other job'

I do not usually talk about my 'day' job here or on the internet at all. It makes me feel exposed and uncomfortable. It also makes me uncomfortable to share my feelings. So today I am going to do both. Not for any self growing exercise or anything but because a recent news story has inspired me to talk about why I work for the company I do.

I work in retail. In the fall of 2008 I had been working for the same arts and crafts supplier for more than seven years. I loved the staff, the customers. and most of the product. What I did not love toward the end of my time there was that the company had started junking up our stores with very cheap, non-craft related fodder (although I know artists can relate anything to craft when the mood strikes them). The company was also never interested in being community involved at all. They even went so far as to post a sign that listed the charities they donate to at the corporate level and that is how they 'give back' so please do not solicit for anything more. My favorite example of the complete disregard for the communities where they placed their stores is their annual 'Wedding Event'. This was a huge deal to the company. We basically threw a wedding party in our store with all of the decorations, cake, hands on activities, and employees dressed up. Great idea, except that I live in Kentucky and no matter how many times we asked to change the date of the event in our store and failed to bring in half of the customers expected when they said no, year after year we dressed up and threw our lonely wedding party on Derby Day. The last straw for me came when they implemented a uniform. I could not stand the idea of dressing alike in a place where creativity is supposed to be sparked. So I set out on a mission. 

I was not just searching for a new job, I was searching for a company that cared about the community where their employees and customers lived (and still being able to wear jeans and tennis shoes every day was a plus). I chose to go with home improvement because it fell in with the DIY realm that I love. There are two major home improvement retailers in my area, Lowes and Home Depot. I heard a rumor that Lowes was employee owned. After a little research it seemed that it had in fact been employee owned at one time but that had changed and there were a few other things changing that made me a bit uneasy about the company. A little research into Home Depot uncovered what I thought I was looking for. They had employee stock purchase options and Team Depot, a group of employees in each store that actually go volunteer in the community backed by Home Depot. So it looked like they were taking care of their employees and the communities where they lived. This is why I sought employment with Home Depot.

Fast forward two years. I had learned that Home Depot does in fact take care of it's employees and not only supports the communities surrounding their stores but pushes their associates to be involved and has an all inclusive diversity policy. That year the AFA called for a boycott of The Home Depot for allowing some of their stores to participate in Pride Festivals in their cities. I held my breath and waited for my company to disappoint me with a public apology. I was so proud when they instead announced that the company has a policy to support and respect the diversity of its employees and customers and would not change their views on this to appease the AFA.

This made me realize what a great choice I had made when I chose my employer. This week, that feeling of pride in my company and comfort in knowing I made the right decision three years ago was reinforced when I read a news story that Lowes, despite having their own policy of acceptance of diversity, pulled their ad from a television program about American Muslims in response to complaints from a small group in Florida.  

I wanted to share this story with you today because when you work for a company as large as The Home Depot, their actions and policies do reflect on how people you know view you as a person. I am happy to say that I and the company I work for share the same views on equality and community.





7 comments:

  1. I so totally agree with everything you said! It is because of companies like this and especially because of people like you that is slowly changing this world we live in for the better!

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  2. I was just listening to a broadcast about the Lowes incident on NRP. What a timely post! Thank you for sharing such a wonderful story.

    It's important that companies know that their actions MATTER. It looks like you went with the right choice!

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  3. Cassie - Thank you for your kind words! I really felt lucky when Home Depot stood up for their values and proud again when they did not stop the same stores from participating in the Pride Festivals this year again.

    Megan - The claims that the group in Florida are making against this show are absolutely horrible. I can not believe they are not ashamed of themselves.

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  4. Great post Jessie. I am glad to know that Home Depot really cares about their customers and the community as well. I work in retail too,but I work in a small locally owned business, a shoe store, and we have she drives, where people bring in used shoes and we donate them to whoever needs it, and we donate to pretty much anyone who ever asks for a donation. And it's pretty fun too. But because it's a small business , often times I think that big corporations are not like our store, and your post actually made me re-think that. Thank You!

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  5. Kinga - Home Depot has figured out how to keep their corporate hand in the stores enough to maintain their brand and values but still trust the people in the stores to run their business.

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  6. I loved your post and am going to forward it to my daughter who is about to change stores in her retail job.

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    1. Thank you Karen. I wish your daughter the best in her new store and of course I recommend Home Depot as an employer.

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