The Ten Most Innovative Companies and the LGBTs Who Got Them to the Top

Our annual list of innovative companies shows the many ways LGBT people are making a difference to business.

BY Advocate Contributors

September 12 2012 4:00 AM ET

Macy’s
Chuck Miller
Cincinnati

In 2005, when Macy’s acquired more than 400 regional department stores through a merger with the May Co., the retailer was determined to build a stronger national brand. That was also the year Chuck Miller, Macy’s vice president in legislative and legal affairs, started working at the company. He’s been enthusiastic about it ever since.

“The vision that Macy’s had in that acquisition was to create the national brand,” says Miller, 57. “It’s been a very successful and exciting time to be at the company.”

Before starting at Macy’s, Miller had worked at a chemical company in St. Louis. Macy’s brand strength, the positive corporate culture, and the emphasis on diversity appealed to him. He says the company embraces its diverse staff, from collaborating for different perspectives on corporate decisions to participating in local LGBT pride events.

“Macy’s is a culture where diversity is valued,” Miller says. “It represents an opportunity for people of diverse backgrounds to come together around a common goal, which is offering choices to customers.”

Choice is key to Macy’s success. One of the company’s newest innovative strategies, called My Macy’s, tailors merchandise choices and shopping experiences to each store location.

The strategy calls for approximately 15% of the merchandise to be chosen specifically for the customers who shop that store. When a select few stores test-drove My Macy’s in 2008, their sales rapidly outpaced other stores. The My Macy’s strategy is now rolling out to all 800 Macy’s locations.

As for LGBT employees, Miller says Macy’s is “very supportive.” The company’s diversity council works to create opportunities to enhance inclusivity — for instance, choosing LGBT-friendly law firms to work with. Macy’s partnered with the Human Rights Campaign to feature HRC merchandise in select stores throughout June, and the company participates in LGBT pride events nationwide.

“I remember the days when those of us in the LGBT community felt it necessary or appropriate or helpful to remain in the closet,” Miller says. “Not only do I not feel that pressure at Macy’s, I feel embraced and welcomed as an LGBT person.”

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