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Diversity In Action

Sears Holdings: varied business, unifying beliefs

It’s been named a top employer for workplace equality and offers a range of benefits to employees. Even so, Sears says demand still outweighs the supply of qualified tech pros


Sears Holdings Corporation (Hoffman Estates, IL) runs nearly 2,500 full line and specialty retail stores in the United States and Canada, as well as an online social shopping component, Shop Your Way. Key proprietary brands include Kenmore and DieHard, apparel offerings include the Kardashian Kollection and Joe Boxer, and subsidiaries include Sears, Roebuck and Co and Kmart Corporation.

Tech expertise and strong problem-solving skills needed
“In our online business unit, we need technicians from entry-level software and software development engineers to principal engineers,” says Thomas Kotek, senior recruiting manager of talent acquisition. “We look for candidates who have strong Java knowledge: a mix of JDBC, Spring, Struts, JMS, JAX-Rs, as well as J2EE multithread development, object-oriented design, design patterns and refactoring; databases such as MySQL, NO SQL, and NEW SQL; and web development, including HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AJAX and JQuery.”

Sears Holdings is also looking for candidates who have experience with service-oriented architecture, Agile software development, data analytics, big data Hadoop, scalable systems, distributed systems, low latency and algorithms, and complexity theory. “Basic programming skills in Java or C++ are helpful and solid school projects or internship experiences are what we look for at the entry level,” Kotek says. “And strong problem-solving skills are a must in this field.”

Kotek anticipates an active need for tech pros over the next thirty-six months. “Demand always exceeds supply,” he says. “We typically find candidates with experience via job boards, referrals and social media outlets.”

Sears Holdings connects with college students and recent grads through on-campus recruiting, job fairs, tech talks and information sessions, classroom and faculty interaction, hack-a-thons, and on-campus interviews, says Louis Deli, talent acquisition team member. “The best advertising? Recent alumni who have current contacts at the schools we are targeting,” he says. “IT and engineering are generally underrepresented when it comes to females and people who are ethnically diverse. At Sears we believe diverse teams result in better integrated technology solutions, so we want to be sure we’re actively working to recruit diverse talent.”

Leveraging an inclusive work environment
“Diversity is embedded in our culture and is a reflection of who we are as an organization. Leveraging the diversity of thoughts, ideas, talents, backgrounds and perspectives of all our associates enables us to make better decisions and come to better solutions,” says Amy Williams, director of diversity and community engagement. “Our diversity and inclusion program has been around a long time. We are now in the process of taking this work to the next level by fully tapping into our associates’ unique talents and perspectives.”

Sears Holdings has ten associate resource groups. “Each one is led by our associates and has two executive sponsors,” Williams says. “The women and veteran resource groups have a robust mentoring program. We’re working to pool all our resource groups together to have one overall diversity mentoring program.” The veteran and African American groups are working to initiate a buddy program that will “focus specifically on helping on-board our new associates,” she adds.

Striking a balance
To help create a healthy work/life balance, Sears Holdings has alternative work arrangement policies, which include working remotely and flex time. The company has a flex spending program, and recently started a benefits exchange program, which gives employees a choice of insurance providers.

Sears Holdings national nonprofit partners are the March of Dimes, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Heroes at Home and Rebuilding Together for military veterans, and Team Up to Stop Bullying.

“Sears Holdings has scored one hundred percent on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index for the past eight years. It’s also been recognized as one of the top employers for families who adopt,” says Williams.

“Our organization is in a transformational period and has recently aligned under a new strategy with key cultural beliefs,” Williams reports. “That integrates well with our diversity and inclusion efforts. We’re excited about being a part of this work and turning this transformation into our new reality.”

D/C




www.searsholdings.com

Headquarters: Hoffman Estates, IL
Employees: 245,000
Business: Integrated retailer

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