DECA students learn about diverse pathways and upward mobility in retail

Nov 10, 2022
Written by WR Communications

A new partnership with Washington DECA, a student leadership organization focused on careers in entrepreneurship and business is the most recent outcome of the association’s JEDI initiatives. Rose Gundersen, VP of Operations & Retail Services, presented on the topic “Discover how retail careers advance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)” at the 2022 Leadership Conference attended by over 1,750 high schoolers in Bellevue.

In addition to demonstrating how retail jobs have diverse pathways fitting for people of all passions, Gundersen shared the latest research that significantly favors retail careers. According to a Burning Glass Institute’s 5-year assessment of 250 companies published in a recent Wall Street Journal Article, retail ranked well for being among the best workplaces to advance within. Nine out of the top 10 companies in this category included retail or had a significant retail presence.

Gundersen encouraged retail career exploration through RISE Up’s four certification programs developed by retailers. Students can potentially earn school credits by converting their part-time jobs into worksite learning. One student thanked Gundersen when he learned he could earn credits through his part-time job at Old Navy with the help of his school’s careers and technical education director.

Rick Means, WR’s Director of Safety and Education and former DECA student, helped relay the message to attendees that a career in retail has more to offer than what might be visible to shoppers. Part of that message included the Pick your Passion road map, which shows numerous pathways careers in retail offers. The road map graphic is part of the National Retail Federation Foundation’s RISE Up program. Students were surprised to learn that retail encompasses far more than they had realized.

For students to get entered into a prize drawing, they had to have someone from each of the supporting organization’s booths sign off on a “passport entry card.” Means asked the students retail-related questions to challenge them to learn more about retail and potential career opportunities.

Investing in retail workers advances DEI because people of color make up 38% of frontline retail workers, and corporate retail recruiters prefer people with frontline retail experience.


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