Advancing Careers in Retail

Job Quality Learning Reports

The retail sector has a giant footprint in today’s workforce – employing one in ten U.S. workers, of which about half are women and more than a third are people of color. With abundant employment opportunities, the sector offers easy access to jobs for workers without credentials or college degrees, but low wages and high turnover are the norm. With eight times as many frontline workers as supervisors, the sector is often described as a “flat pyramid,” with a narrow career ladder and limited opportunities for advancement.

With support from Walmart, the National Fund co-invested in three communities – Baltimore, Des Moines, and Seattle – to learn how to scale industry partnerships in the retail sector and integrate job quality strategies. Each region formed a partnership to encourage practices that would improve job quality and employee advancement opportunities. This report outlines the key lessons learned from the initiative, including the unique challenges and opportunities for engaging the retail sector, and next steps for future work in retail and the broader service sector.