Advancing gender and racial equity in the retail, CPG, and grocery industries

By Jennifer A. Jovcevski

According to a July 2021 study by Deloitte, 35% is the average percentage of Fortune 500 board members in the consumer staples (food) industry who identify as women or minorities.  47% is the average percentage of board members in the nonfood consumer staples industry who identify as women or members of underrepresented groups. Many CPG (consumer packaged goods) retailers and grocers are striving to balance gender and racial equity, not only to ensure they are comprised of a more diverse workforce but also to invest and support women and minority-owned CPG businesses in the chain of supply and as a network.

Earlier this month, online convenience retailer, Gopuff, and NBA All-Star, Chris Paul, announced a “Put Me On” small business accelerator program led by industry leaders and experts geared towards supporting entrepreneurs from historically underrepresented groups and empower them to grow their businesses. “Put Me On” is a six-month program strategically designed to promote minority-owned businesses by giving owners the necessary tools and resources, covering everything from marketing and one-on-one networking sessions to merchandising and supply chain training.

Many other CPG retailers and grocers are following suit. In June 2021, Instacart announced a $1 million initiative to boost Black-owned brands, offering prominent advertising placement. Also, in June, four major retailers (Amazon, Target, Kroger, and Ahold Delhaize USA Companies) adopted IRI's (Information Resources, Inc.’s) Diversity Advantage Program (DAP), which equips minority and women-owned CPG companies with pro bono market research, data, and insights and training and consulting services.

As we continue to explore marketplace shifts in a post-pandemic world, I predict we will continue to see an increasing range of company blueprints, proposals, and tactics to invest in, employ, and empower women and minorities in the CPG retail and grocery industry. Major food retailers have the greatest spheres of influence in this space and can set an example to advance equity in the marketplace by adding more companies owned by women and other historically marginalized people to their supplier network, marketing to consumers with more inclusive messages, and locating their operations to help address food deserts in underserved areas. Women or minority business owners who are interested in investing in another minority-owned business, contracting with minority-owned suppliers and distributors, merging or acquiring another minority-owned business, or starting up a business, should consult with legal counsel well-versed in DE&I (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion), like Nixon Peabody LLP, in order to maximize your success and help turn the tables towards inclusivity.

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Jennifer A. Jovcevski


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