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Mark, Head of Belonging, Reflects on PetSmart's FIFTH Annual Celebration of Belonging

I can’t believe we are about to celebrate our 5th Annual Belonging Week from April 10-16th. I still remember brainstorming in 2018 ways we could make a big splash to announce the creation of a dedicated team to support Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at PetSmart. Truthfully, I don’t remember who said it, but the idea of a “company-wide celebration” was the hands-down winning idea. The only problem? We had never attempted anything quite that scale as a company before. How do you schedule a meeting with Stores, DCs, and Offices associates all at the same time?

That’s where the power of diversity of thought came into play. “Why does it have to be just one meeting, or one day? Why couldn’t we kick off Belonging with an entire week?”

I literally have goosebumps as I’m writing this. I realize it probably sounds cheesy, but the idea of Belonging Week was officially born. At the time, we thought it would be an awesome way to kick off Belonging, but we could never have imagined that we’d repeat it, or just how big it would grow.

Last year, 2022, was our biggest Belonging Week yet. We had nearly 200,000 engagements across our PlayUp recognition platform, intranet hits, video views, and social media interactions. And associates sent over 3 million PlayUp points to each other throughout the week!

This year? We’re planning to go even bigger as we celebrate our 5th Annual Belonging Week! We’ve kept all of the events and activities associates have told us they love – including daily leadership kickoffs, ARG events, TedTalk learning moments, and I Belong stories – but we’ve added a whole bunch more to ensure this is our biggest show of Belonging yet.

For the first time ever, we’ve provided stores with labor to activate during the week! We’ve created DC PlayUp Points Champions and a TikTok-style video competition. At the Home Offices, we’ve got daily events and activities associates can take part in. And we’ve created incentives for every part of the organization to engage: For every Belonging Week PlayUp card sent during the week, associates are entered in to win one of multiple prizes. And we’ve launched the first-ever Belonging Week Central Bark group where associates from every part of the organization can interact – from their computer, tablet, or mobile phone!

To be able to say “5th annual” is a big deal to me as it’s a reminder that Belonging isn’t just a moment in time at PetSmart. It’s who we are. Our United Together value is just as relevant today as it’s ever been:
“We promote belonging and inclusiveness where individuals with diverse backgrounds and talents can excel. We know that by working together, we can accomplish great things.”

I wish you a wonderful Belonging Week, and I invite you to join me in participating in all of the activities we’ve got planned. If you haven’t already downloaded the Central Bark app to your phone, now is a great chance. I hope you’ll share your learnings so that the entire PetSmart team can benefit.

When we work to create a PetSmart where every associate can proudly say, “I Belong,” the sky is the limit.


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