We do not tolerate harassment or discrimination, and we expect Associates to treat each other with dignity and respect. These expectations are reinforced to all Associates in the TJX Global Code of Conduct. In addition, engagement and learning about our inclusive culture begins almost right away for our new Associates. In 2019, we rolled out a global new hire orientation program that included a video and supporting materials discussing our approach to inclusion and our Welcome, Valued, and Engaged goals. We are excited to be able to deliver a unified message across the Company that lets our new hires know that inclusion and diversity are parts of our culture that we truly value.
In addition to our global efforts, our various regions have inclusion-related activities. Below are examples of our initiatives.
Raising awareness of unintentional bias is woven throughout our U.S. operations, including through onboarding, store communications, learning tools, processes, and more. In 2018, over 190,000 U.S. Store Associates participated in an unconscious bias training, designed to raise awareness of unintentional biases and provide the knowledge and tools needed to identify and mitigate them. In 2019, this training became part of the new hire and new manager orientations across the organization, and throughout the year, we have kept the dialogue going through ongoing conversations. For example, we have provided talking points and scenarios for Store Managers to use during Associate shift “huddles.” In the U.S., store managers also have a tool called “Culture Pulse” available to them. Culture Pulse helps store teams gauge performance in the areas of customer engagement and in their connections with each other.
In the U.S., we have formal groups established to support Associate engagement around inclusion and diversity. These Associate Resource Groups are one of many key components for us in fostering an inclusive workplace. The groups offer networking, development, and support for new and long-time Associates and are open to Associates in our corporate offices, loss prevention (LP) departments, and select distribution centers. In 2019, these Groups featured events like “Being the Authentic You,” women’s leadership days, and a Hispanic heritage celebration.
We aim to celebrate diversity in other ways as well. For example, our U.S. distribution centers fly the flags of the countries represented by our Associate base and celebrate key holidays that are important to them. And, we have a large presence in the annual PRIDE parades.
Our policies and practices also reflect our philosophy of inclusion. For example, prior to nationwide recognition of same-sex marriage in the U.S., TJX offered benefits to same-sex domestic partners who did not have access to marriage. Today, we are pleased that our benefits program provides benefits to same-sex married Associates and their spouses. We also offer transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits and related healthcare services, as well as Workplace Gender Transition Guidelines and a Workplace Gender Transition Plan template, which are designed to help transitioning Associates, their managers, and human resources partners ensure that adequate support is in place prior to, during, and after transition for those Associates. Additionally, we have updated our dress code policy to make it more gender-neutral and we have an enhanced parental leave policy. We are proud to have scored a 100 on the Corporate Equality Index of the U.S.-based Human Rights Campaign in nine of the past 12 years and earned the highest ranking in the Human Rights Campaign’s “Buying for Workplace Equality” guide.
In Canada, we have diversity committees in our home office and distribution centers as well as a diversity representative in stores. We also have a Values Committee in the home office for coordinating inclusion-focused events. We offer formal programs, such as “A Winning Balance,” to help Associates better understand their teams and be more effective leaders, and “DRIVE,” which stands for delivering results, innovation, value, and engagement. In addition, we have informal processes across the organization, such as pre-shift “huddle” discussions and short “did you know” postings that cover topics that support our goals for driving inclusion and diversity. In an effort to inspire, motivate, and reinforce Associate morale, TJX stores run The JOY Project, a customer service and Associate engagement initiative. This effort works to build strong connections between managers, Associates, and customers, and recognizes behaviors that mirror important aspects of our culture.
We also aim to celebrate diversity. As in the U.S., we participate in annual PRIDE parades across Canada, and we also host a diversity picnic at our home office that kicks off with an Associate huddle around why diversity is important to us.
In Europe, we are investing in additional training related to inclusion and diversity, designed to continue to foster a creative, inclusive, respectful, and productive workforce. An important part of the process is to continue to seek feedback from a broad range of Associates. We have focus groups across our organization to drive deeper insight into the day to day experience of working with us. We have developed a partnership with Everywoman, which works with organizations to enhance the potential of women. We are focusing initially on our processing centers and working on career development for all of our processing center Associates, both women and men.
We are passionate about continuing to provide attractive and accessible opportunities throughout our organization for Associates to fulfill their potential. We plan to continue to work on solutions that build on our existing Associate engagement program to support the needs of our diverse Associate population.