Inclusion & Diversity

AEO celebrates the diversity of one through the inclusion of many. AEO Inc. and the AE and Aerie brands are a reflection of all of our stakeholders-different ages, abilities, genders, cultures, sexual orientations and identities, and races.

Our commitment to strengthening AEO’s inclusive culture

In 2020, AEO made significant strides in I&D initiatives including:

  • Launched the REAL Change Scholarship for Social Justice, a $5 million commitment created to advance educational opportunities for full and part-time AEO Inc. associates, who are actively driving anti-racism, equality and social justice initiatives.
  • Named a Chief I & D Officer and I & D Lead to further advance AEO’s efforts to strengthen the career development of Black and POC associates, increase representation of diverse candidates in hiring, promote education and awareness, and equip leaders and teams with the tools to maintain an inclusive workplace.
  • Made a $500,000 pledge to the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund to support their education equity work and scholarships for exceptional African-American students. The company also up to $100,000 in donations made by AEO associates to organizations fighting against racism and for social justice.
  • Implemented a program with the National Retail Federation to provide retail career education for students attending HBCUs.
  • AEO remains dedicated to supporting causes that uphold the company’s values and make a lasting difference in the lives of those in its communities, like its work with The Pittsburgh Promise, It Gets Better Project and Big Brothers Big Sisters Workplace Mentoring, among others.
  • Announced our first Black Board member, Steven Davis.
  • Implemented the REAL Commitment Hiring Policy to increase candidate diversity, resulting in increased hiring rates for POC.
  • Offered in-person Inclusive Leadership training and implemented over 100 new training modules into our Learning Management System, accessible to all associates.
  • Required mandatory Cultural Appropriation Training for all customer and product facing business units.
  • Launched the REAL Talk Roundtable series to encourage dialogue between associates and leaders to discuss how people with different cultures, personalities and perspectives can come together around the common goals and values of AEO.
  • Increased culture recognition through education of various cultural and heritage celebrations including Juneteeth, Latinx Heritage Month, Indigenous People’s Day, National Disability Employment Day, etc.

Learn more about our Strategic Vision and the diversity of our team here.

Our Guiding Principles

Creating an environment where everyone feels respected and empowered is more than just a statement, it is an expectation and part of our core values. We are committed to driving Inclusion & Diversity efforts through three key working groups: hiring, culture and development.


AEO is committed to hiring a diverse workforce. We welcome the unique contributions that our associates bring to our organization from their ethnicity, race, age, gender identity and expression, veteran’s status, religion, disability, sexual orientation, nation of origin, and education. We are focused on ensuring candidate diversity in the recruiting process, offering interview panels comprised of diverse associates, expanding our candidate pools through strengthened relationships with community organizations and HBCUs, providing inclusive leadership and unconscious bias training for all hiring managers, and providing accommodations for candidates as needed.


AEO believes that our people are our most valuable asset and we strive to sustain a culture that fosters inclusion and a true sense of belonging. Our associates have the freedom to be who they want to be, uniquely helping to create a vibrant culture. AEO is a place where our people are excited to come to work because they believe in the work that they do, feel valued, are appreciated for their contributions, and have the freedom to be themselves. We know that having an inclusive culture is our greatest strength and a necessity to uphold our core values – People, Integrity, Passion, Innovation and Teamwork.


AEO is dedicated to educating our workforce, at all levels, on important topics and issues for marginalized communities in order to foster an inclusive and supportive workplace for our associates. In addition, we are committed to the continuous improvement of our talent development process, performance metrics, mentorship opportunities, and people analytics to ensure our associates achieve personal and career growth while at AEO. We continue to strengthen our leadership practices with inclusive leadership training and open forum discussions, and plan to further invest to understand how we can improve long-term.

In 2018, a group of associates passionate about inclusion and diversity founded the I&D Alliance. It has been a group that has advocated for REAL change, to create an environment where everyone feels respected and empowered. The Alliance informs and educates the three pillar working groups (Hiring, Culture and Development) and the I&D Steering Committee on the changes they would like to see. The core purpose of the group is centered on developing and implementing strategic action plans to embed I&D into the core functions of the business. The Alliance is open to all associates who are eager to do the work to make our great culture better.

AEO Associate Networks & Connections

Associate Networks + Connection groups promote educational opportunities and foster our associate community. Associate Networks are shared interest groups, generally tied to AEO’s Purpose, Values and Corporate Responsibility. These groups have a clear mission, specific goals and an Executive Sponsor. Associate Connections are less formal than Networks and are designed for associates to engage with others with similar interests, hobbies and passions.

The REAL Parents Network

The REAL Parents Associate Network was founded in 2019 to establish supportive connections to acknowledge the realities of working parents. Their goals are to recognize the challenges of navigating personal and professional lives, maternity, paternity and new dependent leave, medical benefits, re-entering the workplace, and balancing career development as parents. The group provides mentoring, resources and inspires their community with REAL stories and education.

The Real Jewish Connection

AEO’s REAL Jewish Connection is a group created to celebrate the Jewish culture through education and recognition of holiday rituals throughout the year. This associate connection is open to all associates interested in sharing their experiences and learning and honoring Jewish culture! This past year, the REAL Jewish Connection virtually celebrated holidays with events such as Apples & Honey for Rosh Hashanah, the Dreidel games and latke making for Hanukkah, and they will commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27.

Associate Network

  • The Green Team
  • REAL Parents
  • The REAL Pride Network
  •  Women in Technology
  •  Veteran & Military Employee Resource Group
  • REAL Black Alliance

Associate Connections

  •  The Anti-Racism Connection
  • AEO Boomerangs
  • New-ish to Pittsburgh
  • AEO REAL Creators
  • AEO REAL Dogs
  • AEO REAL Jewish Connection
  • Women @ AEO

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