Meet Michelle Apodaca
27 January 2022
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Get to know Michelle Apodaca, Director of Deckers Gives as she explains the purpose and vision of the Deckers’ global giving program – which UGG is a part of under the Deckers Brands umbrella – and the impact its initiatives have across people and the planet.
What is Deckers Gives? What is the overall vision?
Deckers Gives is our charitable giving program and one of the three pillars in our ESG (Environmental, Social & Governance) program. It encompasses our company’s monetary donations, in-kind donations and our volunteering program. The overall vision is to live up to our key value of Do Good and Do Great. This gives our employees opportunities to find a greater purpose and connection to each other and their communities around the globe. In addition, our vision is to grow the reach of our efforts by having more companies join us in showing the world what true corporate leadership looks like. Companies can do good and do great, together.
As the Director of Deckers Gives & Board Administration, what are your primary responsibilities?
I lead and oversee our global giving program, which includes strategic management of our global monetary gifts as well as our global volunteer program. In addition, I work with the brands to align and execute their giving strategies, connect Deckers employees to our local non-profits organizations to serve on boards as well as advise on charitable giving.
Are there any initiatives from Deckers Gives that you are particularly excited about?
I am excited by our Art of Kindness initiative, especially during the past two years when everyone has been navigating an entirely new world with COVID restrictions. During this time, we had to rethink how we could continue making an impact through volunteering and yet keep our employees safe. We pivoted mainly to virtual volunteering and created a week-long event that gave our employees the flexibility to participate when it best fitted into their schedules. We have had incredible participation and the event fostered great camaraderie and connection within our Deckers family. While we had the most volunteer hours in the history of our company with over 5000 hours in FY’21, we are now over 10,000 hours in FY’22 due to Art of Kindness.
How does UGG, as part of Deckers Brands, cultivate a culture of giving back and inclusion amongst its employees?
UGG aligns with many campaigns throughout the year with opportunities to give back. A pillar of the UGG brand is to Do Good for People which means the brand actively partners with non-profits such as Pacific Pride Foundation, The Dovetail Project, Every Mother Counts, White Buffalo Land Trust, and more. Supporting locally and globally is key to the UGG brand and how it shows up for our consumers. Our employees are actively involved in the selection of the non-profits we support, both financially and with volunteering hours.
Beginning in June 2020, following the murder of George Floyd, Deckers Brands has committed to taking action against systemic injustices facing Black Americans by creating sustainable and meaningful change throughout the entire company and donating $500,000 to social justice causes. How do you hope these donations – together with other work being done at your organization is doing to take a stand against systemic racism – will effect lasting change alongside the organization’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion goals?
Our CEO and entire leadership team felt strongly that Deckers needed to make a statement in support of social and racial justice, and strongly affirming that Deckers is an anti-racist organization. With the initial donation and subsequent donations, we continue to remain focused on using our platforms to help create the change we want to see all around us. The focus on supporting organizations that advocate for social and racial justice is part of our ongoing corporate giving priorities and aligns with our company’s overall DEI goals. Further, the UGG team is working to expand access to the fashion industry in two key ways. First, by way of highlighting the voices and work of underrepresented creatives in our monthly Feel You series. Secondly, by way of the Deckers Scholars program created in partnership with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). Through this initiative, four annual scholarships of $5,500 each will be granted to students who want to pursue careers in sustainable fashion and business.
What are your plans for the future evolution of giving and volunteerism within the local and global communities in which UGG has a footprint?
We are excited about the opportunity to further our connections within the communities where we have a footprint around the world. Whether staff are writing letters for Love for our Elders in the U.S. or planting trees with non-profit More Trees in Japan, we are eager to continue growing our impact, serving people and the planet. At Deckers we strive to operate with a spirit of 365 volunteerism where there is always a reason to care for our neighbors.
Read more about how UGG encourages volunteerism for MLK Day 2022 here.