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Retail Panel on Racial Profiling Convenes at John Jay College of Criminal Justice

The Retail Symposium on Shopping Equity Brings Retailers, Community Leaders, and Law Enforcement Officials Together at Forum about Race and Retail

By Kristin Vaughan, Macy's

Ted Potrikus, President of the Retail Council of New York State, and Broadcast Journalist Soledad O’Brien moderated the Retail Symposium on Shopping Equity town hall, co-sponsored by the Retail Council of New York State and Macy’s at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Photo credit: Sam Ramirez, Sam@OffThaRecord

Ted Potrikus, President of the Retail Council of New York State, and Broadcast Journalist Soledad O’Brien moderated the Retail Symposium on Shopping Equity town hall, co-sponsored by the Retail Council of New York State and Macy’s at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Photo credit: Sam Ramirez, Sam@OffThaRecord

(NEW YORK) -- June 15, 2015-- The Retail Council of New York State joined forces with key retailers Thursday to open a dialogue on race and retail. “The Retail Symposium on Shopping Equity” brought more than 100 retailers, community leaders, and law enforcement officials together at John Jay College of Criminal Justice for a full day of panels and a town hall meeting to address the complexities of racial profiling and strategize ways to create a shopping culture that is welcoming to all customers.

The symposium, co-sponsored by the Retail Council and Macy’s, connected the wide-ranging groups to share their unique perspectives on racial profiling and develop a series of in-depth discussions about race, crime, and justice. Attendees examined the root causes of retail racial profiling -- when certain consumers feel targeted and mistreated while shopping based on outward appearances, such as skin color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or how they are dressed. In addition, they looked at its impact at Black and Hispanic communities, ways to manage implicit biases, assessed data on prevalence, and reviewed best practices to create an anti-profiling gold-standard solution.

Macy’s CEO and Chairman Terry J. Lundgren addresses the audience of retailers, community leaders, and law enforcement at the Retail Symposium on Shopping Equity at John Jay College of Criminal Justice on June 11. Photo credit: Sam Ramirez, Sam@OffThaRecord

Macy’s CEO and Chairman Terry J. Lundgren addresses the audience of retailers, community leaders, and law enforcement at the Retail Symposium on Shopping Equity at John Jay College of Criminal Justice on June 11. Photo credit: Sam Ramirez, Sam@OffThaRecord

“This is not a box we would just like to check…and say we had that meeting and now let’s move on,” said Ted Potrikus, president of the Retail Council of New York State. According to Potrikus, the retail industry wants to definitely get the message out that they are paying attention to profiling. “It is a tough issue to talk about and it’s one of those things where I think any retailer will say, `This won’t happen to us’ – until it does happen…The issue is more than two brands, the issue is more than one borough. The issue can hit at any time. You just never know,” Potrikus said.

In addition to Macy’s, associate relations, asset protections and human resources representatives from more than 15 leading retailers, including Barney’s, Nordstrom, Walmart, Bloomingdale’s and Home Depot were present. Also in attendance were local and national Black and Hispanic community and civil rights leaders, including: Reverend Calvin O. Butts, of The Abyssinian Baptist Church; Michael Hardy, of the National Action Network; Michael Garner, of One Hundred Black Men, Inc. of New York; Gail Smith of Impacto Latin News; Rossana Rosado, former publisher of El Diario-La Prensa; and Marlene Cintron, of the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation. Broadcast journalist Soledad O’Brien hosted a town hall meeting and Professor Charles J. Ogletree ended the day with a talk on racial justice.

Macy’s CEO and Chairman Terry J. Lundgren and Reverend Calvin O. Butts III, of The Abyssinian Baptist Church, following the “Perspectives from Community Leaders When Profiling Allegations Arise” panel at the Retail Symposium on Shopping Equity, co-sponsored by the Retail Council of New York State and Macy’s at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Photo credit: Sam Ramirez, Sam@OffThaRecord

Macy’s CEO and Chairman Terry J. Lundgren and Reverend Calvin O. Butts III, of The Abyssinian Baptist Church, following the “Perspectives from Community Leaders When Profiling Allegations Arise” panel at the Retail Symposium on Shopping Equity, co-sponsored by the Retail Council of New York State and Macy’s at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Photo credit: Sam Ramirez, Sam@OffThaRecord

“Profiling is illegal, number one,” said Hardy, who serves as the executive vice president and general counsel of the National Action Network and sat on the “Perspectives from Community Leaders When Profiling Allegations Arise” panel. “It’s not good business and it’s not good citizenship. No one wants to come to a place where they are not welcome and no one wants to spend money where they aren’t [either.]” Hardy added, retailers should take note that Blacks and Hispanics’ buying power is $1.3 and $1.5 trillion respectively.

Butts, who was also on the community leaders panel, said that when it comes to spending their hard-earned money, Blacks and Hispanics need to redirect it to where they are respected.

“Racial profiling is directly connected to your influence in the marketplace,” Butts said. “If you use your dollars wisely, you can influence a change. If you continue to spend your dollars where you are disrespected, then people are going to treat you the same way.”

Broadcast Journalist Soledad O’Brien moderated the Retail Symposium on Shopping Equity town hall, co-sponsored by the Retail Council of New York State and Macy’s at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. (L-R) O’Brien, Rossana Rosado, former publisher of El Diario-La Prensa and John Jay Faculty Member; Marlene Cintron, of the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation; Kristen Clarke, from the New York State Attorney General’s Office and Chad McIntosh, Bloomingdales, Inc. Photo credit: Sam Ramirez, Sam@OffThaRecord

Broadcast Journalist Soledad O’Brien moderated the Retail Symposium on Shopping Equity town hall, co-sponsored by the Retail Council of New York State and Macy’s at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. (L-R) O’Brien, Rossana Rosado, former publisher of El Diario-La Prensa and John Jay Faculty Member; Marlene Cintron, of the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation; Kristen Clarke, from the New York State Attorney General’s Office and Chad McIntosh, Bloomingdales, Inc. Photo credit: Sam Ramirez, Sam@OffThaRecord

Butts also encouraged minorities to speak with their wallets at retail outlets that respect diversity throughout its organization. “It’s not only about shopping equity and how we spend our money,” Butts said. “It’s how [a company] spends its money. How [they] treat their employees and how [they] impact diversity in terms of their staff. Those messages of inclusion need to come from the top down.”

Macy’s CEO and Chairman Terry J. Lundgren addressed the audience, too. Macy’s, he said, has a long history of incorporating diversity and inclusion into all facets of its business. However, he said, he is aware that a “trust gap” exists between the retail industry and many customers who are people of color.

“If they feel like they have to look over their shoulder because of the way that they look or the color of their skin, or just the way they are acting inside of our store… If they feel there is mistrust on the part of the retailer … then we have to fix that,” Lundgren said. We have to be responsive to that and decide what we have to do to adjust so the consumer doesn’t have to adjust.”

This article appears with the permission of Macy's.