2021 Impact Award winners: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Canadian Grocer recognizes grocery retail and CPG businesses making a positive impact with inaugural award
Carolyn Cooper, Rebecca Harris, Carol Neshevich and Rosalind Stefanac
To celebrate Canadian grocery retail and CPG businesses that are going above and beyond to make the world a better place, this year we launched the Canadian Grocer Impact Awards.
We recognized 33 winners in four categories: Sustainability; Supporting Employees; Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; and Community Service. (Click here for the full list of winners.)
Five companies took home the award in the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion category, and here's why:
Since 2016, Bimbo Canada has focused on training its leaders to be effective in a diversity, equity and belonging (DEB) environment. Last year 118 “people leaders” completed the Diversity and Inclusion training course (with the goal of eventually having all leaders complete the course), while 250 people leaders completed Healthy Minds training. “Belonging is our ultimate goal. When we ‘belong,’ we can be our authentic selves at work,” says Teresa Schoonings, the company’s senior director, government relations and sustainability.
Early this year Bimbo re-launched its diversity, equity and belonging (DEB) committee, staffed with employee volunteers, and is working on initiatives that include building representation and inclusion of specific demographics, creating a culture of belonging, and supporting diversity and equity. Already more than 50% of Bimbo Canada’s executive team are women, and the company supports employees through internal organizations such as the Women in Operations leadership circle and the Successful Millennials leadership circle. “Bimbo Canada is committed to living our diversity statement,” says Schoonings, adding that the company is partnering with BlackNorth Initiative and the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion.
Conagra is striving to increase representation of people of colour and women in management roles, and to also decrease turnover within both groups.
For Conagra Brands, diversity has always been important, but the company is making deeper diversity and inclusion commitments built around two strategic goals: increase representation of people of colour and women in management roles, and decrease turnover within both groups. “At Conagra Brands, we seek to nourish communities through our products and our practices,” says Lindsey Williams, senior director of human resources. “Our inclusive culture encourages openness, acceptance and individual authenticity. Healthy backgrounds, perspectives, life experiences, and opinions are valued and belong here. It’s what fosters our innovation and growth.”
To achieve its goals, Conagra has established a D&I Leadership Council, comprised of Conagra’s senior leadership and HR diversity and inclusion teams, to drive accountability and execution of the company’s commitments. It also launched a new inclusive leadership development program in October 2020. To date, nearly 1,400 people managers have been trained in inclusive leadership practices. The goal of this learning series is to meet leaders where they are and show the importance of D&I as a means to succeed in the marketplace and achieve business objectives. The company also set ambitious representation and retention goals, including doubling the representation of people of colour in management and middle-management roles and having at least 40% of management-level roles held by women within the next five years.
Danone Canada has an “inclusive diversity” strategy embedded throughout its business. “Danoners embrace our culture that welcomes and supports members of diverse communities,” says Melanie Lebel, the company’s vice-president of human resources. “In fact, last year, three inclusive diversity-driven ‘Employee Resource Groups’ (ERGs) emerged, driving impact within our workforce and beyond, reaching consumers and communities.” The three new ERGs were: LIFT (Leading and Inspiring Female Talent); the 1DanONE Black, Indigenous & people of colour leadership group (BIPOC); and the PRIDE LGBTQIA2S+ group.
The LIFT ERG’s activities have included International Women’s Day events as well as the launch of the Danone LIFT Leadership Award, in collaboration with the Schulich School of Business, recognizing an outstanding female student with a prize and mentorship opportunity. Danone also launched annual LIFT Awards to celebrate employees who inspire, empower and support women. Then there’s the 1DanONE Black, Indigenous and people of colour leadership group (BIPOC). Education is a key driver for this group, with initiatives including presentations on First Nations topics, #StopAsianHate Group sessions and Race in Canada listening sessions. Similarly, the PRIDE ERG held speaker sessions to educate employees on LGBTQIA2S+ community topics, and celebrated Pride Month with a series of events. “By encouraging employees to be their best selves, and creating an environment in which their different personalities, views and perspectives are embraced, we fuel collective performance,” says Lebel.
Kellogg is on a mission to create “Better Days” with a focus on equity, diversity and inclusion (ED&I). On the heels of racial unrest in 2020, that mission came into stronger focus with the launch of 10 Kellogg Canada ED&I Commitments, demonstrating the company’s resolution to fight racism, discrimination and inequality.
Kellogg is bringing these commitments to life through initiatives such as an annual day of reflection dedicated to self-directed learning on topics such as the “History of Racism in Canada” or “Indigenous History.” This year it also launched a new training program consisting of two 4.5-hour virtual sessions to help leaders develop skills needed to become inclusive leaders.
Through its Better Days programs, in partnership with Food Banks Canada, Kellogg is also ensuring donated funds and food items go to marginalized communities disproportionately impacted by hunger and food insecurity. (It has committed to investing $1 million by 2025 to support these communities.) “These commitments are focused on enhancing equity, diversity and inclusion for our people, the communities in which we live and work, and our business,” says the company’s president Tony Chow. “We’ve already made significant progress on many of them, and we continue to focus our efforts on creating ‘Better Days’ and a place at the table for everyone.”
Crest’s support for the LGBTQ+ community is just one of many examples of P&G brands supporting diversity.
P&G’s Crest brand has long been a supporter of the LGBTQ+ community, and created a series of videos telling true stories of when a smile turned a fearful moment (coming out as gay, for example) into something to celebrate. Pantene Canada joined the global brand’s Hair Has No Gender Project in 2020, a campaign aiming to give transgender and non-binary people the confidence to express themselves through their hair. And Gold Series, a hair care line created by Black scientists specifically for textured hair, launched in Canada in early 2020—and the new brand quickly set out to break the negative stereotypes Black women face related to their hair through its #MyHairMyStory campaign, which celebrated the stories of eight Black Canadian women and their hair journeys; how they are expressing themselves through their hair and, therefore, resetting narrow beauty ideals.
Secret Deodorant has taken on the issue of gender inequality in sports— after the Canadian Women’s Hockey League folded in 2019, Secret stepped in to support a more inclusive future for women’s hockey, connecting their existing #EqualSweat campaign to the issue. The brand partnered with the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA), and featured players Hayley Wickenheiser, Sarah Nurse and Mélodie Daoust in a digital video series looking at what it means to be a female hockey player and the obstacles they face. To top it off, Secret made a $1-million dollar commitment to the PWHA. And on Menstrual Hygiene Day, P&G brand Always partnered with the Government of Alberta and United Way Central Alberta to provide period products to 100 schools across Alberta as part of a pilot project starting September 2021.
“P&G has been a champion for gender equality, LGBTQ+ individuals, people with disabilities, and people of colour for many years, both internally and externally,” says Geraldine Huse, president, P&G Canada. “We know that an equal world is a better world—for everyone. Over the years, we have committed to creating a more equitable world for our employees, with our brands, through our partners, and in our communities. Most importantly, we believe in the power of our differences and the impact we can make when we come together united by shared values and purpose.”