SOLON, Ohio — More than 640 buyers met with 485 brands during ECRM’s recent Diversity Week, which included programs for diverse- and minority-owned suppliers across food and beverage; general merchandise; and health & beauty care categories. Over 3,800 curated meetings were held on the ECRM Connect platform across the three programs.
The programs were launched to introduce retailers to brands that are diversity qualified or minority owned. Certifications included but were not limited to: disability-owned; disadvantaged business enterprise-owned; ethnic minority-owned; gay-, lesbian-, bisexual- or transgender-owned; veteran-owned; and woman-owned businesses.
“ECRM’s Diversity programs are part of our ongoing commitment to help diverse-owned suppliers gain exposure to retailers and foodservice operators,” said Greg Farrar, CEO of ECRM. “Supplier diversity has become increasingly important for our industry and our company, and we’re thrilled to provide a platform to facilitate the discovery of these diverse-owned brands.”
Additionally, ECRM and RangeMe together have facilitated the product discovery efforts behind several retailers’ diversity initiatives over the past year, including the launch of inaugural supplier diversity initiatives from both Meijer and Schnuck Markets, and for the second year in a row, a diversity summit with Dollar General. This year the company is offering several opportunities for diverse brands to meet with buyers via its virtual programs.
Earlier this year, ECRM & RangeMe were among the recipients of Shelby Publishing’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion awards, which recognizes retailers, wholesalers, distributors, suppliers/vendors and solutions providers that are working to advance and uphold diversity, equity and inclusion in the U.S. grocery industry.
“One of the key tools we’re using to help us achieve our commitment to supporting more women and diverse-owned business is our partnership with ECRM/RangeMe,” said Jonathan Mayes, Albertsons Companies SVP, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer. “Our participation in ECRM/RangeMe’s Supplier Diversity week helped us connect with over 130 businesses whose ownership reflects the rich diversity of the communities we serve and who provide products to meet the changing needs of our customers.”
The programs also included two educational sessions on diversity. One was a WE panel discussion featuring an all-star roster of panelists who discussed how we can create a more diverse and inclusive industry. The panel was moderated by Michele Muhammad, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, DSE Healthcare Solutions, and panelists included Jocelyn Konrad, EVP, Chief Pharmacy Officer, Rite Aid; Lisa Paley, General Manager, North America, Glaxo Smith Kline; Roz Chapman, President, The Chapman Edge; and Heather Hughes, Group VP & GM Seasonal, GM and Photo, Walgreens.
The other session was a fireside chat with ECRM SVP of Retail Wayne Bennett and Joi Pratt, Senior Consultant Shopper Insights Activation for WSL Strategic Retail on how brands and retailers can serve the diverse needs of shoppers.
“As a veteran-owned company, it’s important for us to get in front of buyers looking to work with minority-owned brands,” said Luke Schneider, founder and CEO of Fire Department Coffee, a supplier participant in Diversity Week who is both a Navy veteran and active-duty firefighter. “The ECRM Diverse & Minority-Owned Food & Beverage Program helped us to directly interact with these relevant buyers.”