Kroger seeks to propel diversity

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CINCINNATI — Kroger Co. has followed up on its promise to work toward a more equitable and just society by unveiling an action plan to support diversity and inclusion, both within its workforce and among its suppliers. The plan centers on 10 immediate actions within five focus areas, all intended to advance equality and social justice in the workplace and in the broader society.

The new plan, Framework for Action: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, includes immediate and longer-term measures that were developed with the participation of employees and leaders. Their goal is to accelerate and promote greater change in the workplace and in the communities that Kroger serves.

“Over the last several months, we’ve listened closely to our half a million associates and countless communities across the nation,” says Rodney McMullen, chairman and chief executive officer. “It’s never been clearer that our collective energy is necessary to achieve true and lasting equality.

“We have taken a very thoughtful and purposeful approach to develop what we believe are the right actions to substantially and positively impact our culture and our country, creating real change now and into the future. We are approaching this effort with humility, knowing we can’t do it alone and don’t and won’t have all the answers.”

The five focus areas defined by Kroger’s Framework for Action are:

• Create more inclusive culture.

• Develop diverse talent.

• Advance diverse partnerships.

Advance equitable communities.

Deeply listen and report progress.

To create a more inclusive culture, Kroger is creating a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) advisory council that will include associates from across the Kroger portfolio of companies and be led by Monica Garnes, retail division president. The council will partner with senior leaders within the company and associate resource and advocacy groups representing Black, Latino, Asian, LGBTQ, and physically and intellectually disabled associates, in addition to veterans, women, parents and Millennials.

The company will also provide unconscious bias training to every leader this year, and it is developing a comprehensive DE&I training program for all associates that will be introduced by May 2021.

In order to develop diverse talent, Kroger will partner with Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities and community colleges. In addition, the company is redesigning its mentorship program to create more opportunities for advancement and broaden access to leaders throughout the organization.

As part of its effort to advance diverse partnerships, Kroger has set a goal to increase its expenditures with diverse suppliers from $3.4 billion last year to $10 billion by 2030. Furthermore, as a member of the Billion Dollar Roundtable, Kroger will continue to partner with diverse businesses, including through investment in incubators and accelerators.

To tackle its most difficult goal, advancing equitable communities, Kroger will make further investments to advance racial equity. Last month the Kroger Foundation’s Racial Equity Fund, created earlier this year in the wake of the killing of three African Americans, invited 14 organizations to apply for a $1 million grant through its Build It Together grant challenge. Of the 14, three will be selected to receive the grants later this year.


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