Director of Diversity, Macy’s East Division
New York City. Age: 32
Leotis Sanders is director of workforce diversity at Macy’s East Division, the largest retail division of Federated Department Stores, with more than 30,000 employees and 170 stores. Aside from developing and implementing programs and policies to attract a diverse work force, he must establish partnerships that enable Macy’s to contribute meaningfully to the diverse community and guide the various levels of management in addressing internal diversity concerns.
Sanders was raised in a predominantly Italian-American community in Brooklyn, N.Y., where his parents believed their children would receive better schooling. Sanders learned a great deal about ignorance and intolerance during those years. At first, he thought of becoming a civil rights attorney, but he became convinced that there were other ways to serve his community. “I really wanted to be someone who had an impact and made a difference,” he says. He earned a bachelor’s degree with dual majors in philosophy and religion and a master’s degree in education, all from the University of Rochester, New York. When he landed at Macy’s, he seized the opportunity to foster understanding, inclusion and mutual respect.
Sanders is equally committed to community service. He chairs Macy’s Central Diversity Committee, which executes the company’s diversity initiatives, such as creating career development workshops at predominantly Black Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn. He also is part of the Strategic Planning and Mentor Committees for One Hundred Black Men of New York City, a member of the New York Urban League and the National Association of African Americans in Human Resources for Greater New York.
Sanders still flirts with the idea of returning to school for that law degree. At 32, he has many years in which to consider a second career. In the meantime, “I am doing something that I love to do and that the company really needs and is willing to invest in. I am truly blessed that my career, my personal interests and hobbies are reflections of who I am and what I value,” he says.