How Nordstrom DEI Leader Colleen Mitchell Takes a People-First Approach

As the head of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging at Nordstrom, Colleen Mitchell is always thinking about how to uplift other women — both in her company and network.

“Supporting other women is so important to me,” said Mitchell, who joined Nordstrom in August and reports to the company’s HR chief Farrell Redwine. “It’s both a privilege and a responsibility that as my platform increases, I use that influence to amplify the work of others.”

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Mitchell, who previously served as the head of DEI at Petco and held a similar role in Amazon’s global customer fulfillment division, said maintaining strong relationships with her colleagues and partners at Nordstrom helps her be a strong and supportive leader.

Mitchell is based in San Diego and works with many colleagues and partners remotely. But this hasn’t stopped her from prioritizing relationship-building.

“Building connection through meaningful relationships has always been important to me as a leader,” said Mitchell, who described how she frequently checks in with colleagues via Microsoft Teams or a quick call to make sure people know she’s available and open for any questions or impromptu catch-ups.

Mitchell also makes sure to set up recurring one-on-one meetings with women across the company to offer and accept support and surrounds herself with a variety of mentors, many of whom are female, to turn to for guidance.

“Relationships matter,” Mitchell said. “The retail and fashion industries are small and very connected. It’s not just about what you do — it’s about who you do it with and how you do it. You never know when your paths may cross with someone again.”

This article appeared in the June 5 print issue of FN, as part of the “Women Who Rock” special section. This annual feature celebrates female leaders who are shaking up the footwear industry with vision and tenacity. And on June 7, FN and Two Ten Footwear Foundation will also honor these women at a live event in New York City, benefiting Two Ten’s WIFI scholarship.

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