Dave Kozel says the company he joined 15 years ago—PVH Corp.—bears little resemblance to the organization it is today. The clothing wholesaler and retailer grew from 7,500 employees in North America to 36,000 associates worldwide by acquiring lobal lifestyle brands that include Calvin Klein, Warnaco and Tommy Hilfiger. In the early days, Kozel says, PVH’s HR function reflected a decades-old
personnel department that focused on administrative
transactions. Its HR systems were antiquated, and
employee training was minimal. Even its internal
communication strategy was practically null and void.
Since then, the HR and communication functions
have evolved, reflecting a 21st-century workplace. Under
Kozel’s guidance, a results-based HR function was built
that values inclusion and diversity and supports a variety
of communication tools such as an intranet. Hundreds
of training opportunities exist for every employee at
every level. HR also conducts employee surveys about
staff needs and desired changes. Despite these massive
improvements, Kozel says, he never considered himself
an “HR person,” but rather he simply focused his
energies on helping the company be successful.
The catalyst behind most of these HR changes has
been employee feedback from the company’s optional,
biannual surveys, says Kozel, adding that the global
response rate averages 86 percent. The results are
disseminated to senior executives, who are mandated
to share them with their department or staff and
develop a global action plan to address each key issue.
One year, for example, employees cited a lack of
skills training. So Kozel launched PVH University,
which offers hundreds of face-to-face and online
employee courses. The curriculum is organized into
five academies aligned to support four key initiatives:
leadership, inclusion and diversity, professional skills
and supply chain. So far, 89 leaders have completed
the global-leadership program within the leadership
academy, which was designed in conjunction with the
Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Since women represent 68 percent of PVH’s
workforce, a women’s leadership council was also
formed, which rotates its 10 members every two years
and actively engages in women’s leadership issues,
such as upward mobility.
Survey results even influenced the formation of
Kozel’s talent acquisition and management team.
“This was a function that didn’t exist,” Kozel says,
explaining that the HR team asked a series of questions
in areas such as candidate search and assessment to
better understand what was and wasn’t working. “We
also needed to introduce a succession-planning process
for executives. This was all part of building corporate
BY CAROL PATTON
the past two years, the company has been a platinum-level sponsor for the New York City Pride March,
which celebrates the LGBT community.
Still, Kozel says, his achievements are simply
part of his job, or an evolutionary process he calls
“I’ve always looked at myself as being responsible
for human capital and ensuring that the workforce, the
cost of the workforce, the complexion of the workforce,
meets the needs of the businesses I’ve supported,” he
says. “I’ve been able to do this successfully in many
different industries, in many different ways, for many
Category: Organizations with 7,500 or more
Title: Executive vice president and chief HR officer
Company: PVH Corp., New York
Key HR Challenges: Over a 15-year span, the apparel
company had acquired two global lifestyle brands,
which fueled the company’s growth from 7,500
employees throughout North America to 36,000 in 40
countries. At the same time, PVH’s limited or absent
HR-technology systems and HR functions—such as
training, internal communications, and compensation
and benefits—had to be built or redesigned.
Key HR Accomplishments: Developing a global
inclusion and diversity function and strategy. Global
and regional inclusion and diversity committees were
established throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe and
Asia. The company also created business-resource
groups to support diverse employees and backed
global pride celebrations for the LGBT community.
Five years ago, one of the
issues employees raised was
poor internal communication.
Too important to place on a
back burner, Kozel hired Tiffin
Jernstedt to address the issue.
“Dave’s business acumen
is incredible,” says Jernstedt,
senior vice president of
communications at PVH, who
directly reports to Kozel.
“He really takes the time to
understand leaders in each
department and really listens
to what their business needs
are, what they’re trying to
accomplish or achieve. Then
While Kozel has coached
her on the company’s “long
game” of building critical employee programs, among
Jernstedt’s favorite stories involves his commitment
to employees, including the 200 associates who lived
in Puerto Rico when Hurricane Maria slammed into
the island last year. She says Kozel mobilized his HR
team and company leaders to fundraise, ending up with
$450,000 through employee donations and company-
matching funds. PVH then partnered with charitable
organization E4E to distribute the emergency funds
to these employees, who were still receiving PVH
paychecks even though their workplace was destroyed.
Due to Kozel and his HR team’s efforts, PVH has
grabbed national attention.
In 2016 and 2017, Forbes named PVH to its
“America’s Best Employers for Diversity List.” The
company also earned 100 percent on Human Rights
Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, which rates
LGBT policies and programs, during those same
years. This year, it was ranked among the top 100 most
inclusive and diverse employers globally on the Thomas
Reuters Global Inclusion Index and named one of Forbes’
and Just Capital’s “Most JUST Companies.”
Just Doing My Job
The list of Kozel’s accomplishments goes on and
on, which stems from his rich HR background. He
earned a master’s degree in industrial relations from
the University of Illinois and previously served as
executive vice president of HR for J. Crew Group Inc.,
vice president of HR at Grey Advertising and Deluxe
Electronic Payment Systems, and senior HR director at
Citicorp Consumer Credit Services.
As an HR leader at PVH, he has encouraged
senior leadership to participate in a training session—
Confronting Unconscious Bias—and created two
employee-retirement plans: a 401(k) and a fully funded,
open-pension plan. For Kozel, diversity and inclusion
As PVH Corp. expanded globally, Dave Kozel
has made sure the company remains inclusive
and responsive to employee needs.