Blog Post

How Petco is Celebrating April’s National Diversity Month in 2021

April 27, 2021

This month we are highlighting our Diversity Best Practices Member, Petco. We sat down and spoke with Michael Spinella, Vice President of Partner Experience, to learn more about the company’s initiatives during April’s National Diversity Month and get an insider’s look into Michael’s new role as VP of Partner Experience.

Petco’s Member Advisor, Katie Mooney, has been very involved with Petco’s Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging (DI&B) journey and is excited to help shed light on their experience, “we are honored to have supported Petco and their employee resource groups through one-to-one coaching and advisory along with sharing of best practices. It has been rewarding to watch them mature to align with their DI&B strategy and priorities.”

Seramount: How are you celebrating diversity month this year? What are you most excited about?

Michael Spinella, VP Partner Experience: This was our first time formally celebrating diversity month as we are still new in our DI&B journey. We’re excited about the internal education we’re sharing, along with highlighting members of our Partner Resource Groups (PRG)—we call our employees “partners.”

Michael shared a few of the initiatives they launched this April below:

  • Petco produced and shared spotlight videos of personal stories from members of partner resource groups. Each video highlights what it means to be part of a resource group at Petco and how it’s helped members find a greater sense of community and belonging.
  • In April, Petco launched a DI&B learning journey for corporate audiences after previously deploying over 4,000 hours of DI&B learning to leaders of their pet care centers and distribution centers. They’ve also mapped out and assigned a 3-hour class that dives deeper for director level and above to complete as part of their DI&B training.
  • Petco held an all-hands event with nearly 1,000 participants to discuss how they are aligning their DI&B strategy to Petco’s business strategy.
  • On April 15th, Michael and the team held a second company-wide all-hands recognizing National Celebrating Diversity month. The event included leaders across the company showcasing DI&B as a people and business priority and how they plan to embed DI&B into the business process.
  • Petco’s CEO this month announced joining the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion and reaffirmed his commitment to taking a stand and making progress.
  • Externally, Petco has shared a new Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging initiatives page on its corporate site to showcase the work they are doing and bring awareness to DI&B.

Looking ahead, do you have any plans you’d like to share for how you’ll be participating in Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May?

Michael: This May will also be our first formal celebration of AAPI Heritage Month with our new Pan Asian American Partner Resource Group.

One of the initiatives we are excited about for AAPI Heritage Month is that for the first time, we’ll be rolling out heritage month designed masks in all of our pet care centers to help visually represent and acknowledge each month and bring awareness to Petco’s DI&B initiatives. We’ll be looking to continue this momentum throughout the rest of the year and continue bringing awareness to each remaining heritage month.

We’ll also be hosting a few guest speakers to share their experiences within the AAPI community and create space for more open and ongoing dialogue.

  • Petco’s Co-Chair will share his family’s story of surviving the Vietnam war, re-education camp, and being a refuge.
  • Inside Look: The Lumpia Company: Alex Retodo, owner of The Lumpia Company, shares his passion for food and his personal journey as an Asian-American entrepreneur.
  • Addressing Social Justice with John Yang: Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice shares his thoughts on the current struggles of the AAPI community and advocates the importance of speaking up against racial injustice.

We find it critical to find that balance in celebrating the AAPI community while still recognizing recent tragic events impacting the community.

What is the most rewarding part about your role as Vice President, Partner Experience? What’s the most challenging?

This past February, Michael was promoted to VP Partner Experience and now oversees many critical moments across the entire employee lifecycle, including; HR Operations, DI&B initiatives, employee engagement, and employee and labor relations.

Michael: Within this role, I can embed my passion for DI&B into HR moments every day. For example, from recruitment processes to onboarding to key moments in the employee lifecycle, it’s exciting to be able to integrate DI&B best practices into our normal processes—always leveraging my DI&B filter. I’m honored by the ability and responsibility to enact change every day, as this work touches every single partner across the organization.

While Petco has been around for a long time, we are still early in our DI&B journey. There’s a clear desire to make progress quickly, but we also know it’s critical to be strategic. My focus right now is on the journey ahead and ensuring our teams are entirely on board–this isn’t a 0-100 race. We aren’t boiling the ocean…we are being intentional and strategic along the way.

Another critical piece I’ve found with this role is the importance of meeting leaders where they are and helping them map out their individual journeys. We know the work of DI&B is a journey both for an individual and the organization. Meeting leaders where they are and inspiring them to make personal commitments and progress is so fulfilling and a motivating aspect of my role.

What advice would you give to companies that are just beginning their DI&B efforts?

Michael: I think the very first step is to literally define how you talk about this complex topic as a team. Creating a company-wide definition with senior leaders early on can eliminate confusion and help drive alignment and consistency. I often say one of our first steps in our journey was making sure everyone was “singing from the same songbook”—words matter, and these are definitions that will live on—so it’s important to get buy-in and consensus early on.

The second thing I would recommend is to develop a clear business case for the senior leadership team. You’ll want to outline market demographic data, community and geographic data, highlight the numbers on the internal and external side and share how this journey is not only a business one but also a personal one.

At Petco, we know we serve a diverse market and want to ensure we both reflect the markets in which we operate and have a deep understanding and appreciation for their unique needs. Defining what KPIs you will measure, building dashboards that leaders can leverage is another critical component—equip them with the tools to view and understand their data.

At Diversity Best Practices at Seramount, we love to hear the stories of our members’ personal and corporate journeys, as well as sharing the work they are bringing to light. We’d like to say thank you to Michael Spinella and the Petco team for all of the tremendous work and progress they are making in the DI&B space.