With Black History Month in full swing, now is an opportune time to take a look at how diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), is supported and advanced within the food industry. The food industry touches everyone, every day, so the interests of all stakeholders must be recognized. Consumers in minority communities want to know that people who look like them are among the leadership ranks, advocating for their needs and desires. And leaders should be representative of the communities they serve to ensure the appropriate insights are considered.
People of color want to know they have opportunities for employment and promotion. Diverse suppliers want the opportunities to provide products and services, build thriving businesses and grow wealth for future generations. It is reassuring to know that food companies and the organizations that support them, are making great strides in implementing strategies to ensure all employees, customers and suppliers are valued.
A leader in the foodservice space, Sysco endeavors to provide the training, initiatives, and programs to ensure the company culture is conducive to inclusion. Associate resource groups (ARGs) provide an opportunity for employees to connect and offer support to one another. The company works with their leadership around the world to ensure “key business practices are aligned with DEI initiatives.” Sysco has also partnered with several organizations - the National Minority Supplier Development Council, Women’s Business Enterprise National Council and others - to enhance its supplier diversity efforts. The company works with many diverse suppliers – 500 to be exact.
FMI (The Food Industry Association)
During the annual Midwinter Executive Conference, held January 2021, leaders from Schnucks, Ahold Delhaize, and PepsiCo came together to discuss DEI successes and challenges. Out of the panel discussion came five ideas that are helpful to any organization serious about pushing the DEI envelope.
- Define specific DEI goals and tie them to the organization’s sales goals.
- Provide a platform for listening to customers and team members.
- Tell your diversity story. Tell others what your organization has done to support DEI.
- Anticipate enthusiasm around DEI and have a plan for those who want to participate.
- Take action and require accountability. Keep DEI goals front and center by talking about them frequently.
The parent company of eight restaurant chains, including Cheddar’s and Olive Garden, Darden takes a three-pronged approach to diversity, equity and inclusion: 1) Advance workplace diversity by seeking diverse leaders, ensuring diversity is reflected at all levels, and sharing hiring and development best practices across all brands. 2) Create an inclusive environment by furthering awareness, equipping leaders with tools and resources, and utilizing employee resource groups. 3) Build on the (DEI) commitment by supporting the community and investing in diverse suppliers.
Whether providing development opportunities to help motivated minority employees to advance, or ensuring supply chains include diverse suppliers, companies in the food industry understand how these positive actions influence successful outcomes. These efforts are also good for business. Great ideas come from individuals of every color, ethnicity, and background.
DeltaTrak is a minority business enterprise (MBE) leading the industry in cold chain/supply chain innovation. For ideas on how to enhance your supply chain visibility, call us today at 800-962-6776.
"Supplier Diversity: Diversity plays an important role in every aspect of our business, all the way to our Suppliers”, 2022, Sysco Corporation, accessed 2/16/22
“Ensuring an Inclusive & Diverse Culture”, 2022, Darden Concepts, Inc., accessed 2/16/2022.
“5 Lessons Learned: Moving the Needle on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Grocery Industry”, January 28, 2021, Winsight Grocery Business, accessed 2/16/22.