Publication Date



Our nation’s retailers fulfill an important role in our economy and according to the Commission’s EEO-1 reports, employ nearly 15 percent of all private sector employees. This report is one in a series that examines the retail industry. The focus here is on retail department stores, the largest employer of all retail subsectors except for food and beverage stores. It is also a major employer of women who make up a large portion (75 percent) of the retail salespersons in these stores. There is a wide range of stores within the broad category of department stores. The most exclusive high end department stores are considered as offering superior employment situations in terms of environment, compensation and benefits. This study seeks to determine how people of color fare in these stores. Two key questions surround these stores. Do high end department stores focus so much on locations in affluent neighborhoods that they limit access that nonwhite workers might have to employment there? Second, regardless of accessibility to diverse work forces, do high end department stores maintain a diverse work force? Department stores in the ten largest metropolitan areas are examined: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, Miami, Washington, Houston, Detroit and Boston. Major findings include:

• The labor market for African American and Hispanic sales workers relevant to high end department stores is not significantly different than the labor markets for other types of department stores.

• The labor market for Asians sales workers is somewhat better for high end department stores than for other types of department stores.

• On average, high end department stores are more likely to have significant shortfalls in the employment of African Americans, Hispanics and Asians as sales workers.

• Chain ownership has a significant effect on diversity of employment.

• There appears to be some evidence that exclusive department stores have substantially more disparities with Hispanic sales workers than other kinds of race/ethnic groups.

This report is a condensed version of High End Department Stores, Their Access and Use of Diverse Labor Markets: Technical Report. More detailed statistical findings and methodology are presented there.


Suggested Citation

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (2004). High end department stores, their access to and use of diverse labor markets: Summary report. Washington, DC: Author.