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08/23/2022

2022 Impact Awards winners: Diversity, equity & inclusion

These six grocery retail and CPG businesses are making strides towards diversity, equity and inclusion
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For its second year, the Canadian Grocer Impact Awards celebrates Canadian grocery retail and CPG businesses that are going above and beyond to make the world a better place

We recognized 40 winners making a positive impact in the areas of sustainability; supporting employees; diversity, equity & inclusion; and community service

Six companies won in the category of diversity, equity & inclusion. Here’s why:

JAMIESON WELLNESS 

As Jamieson Wellness marks its 100th anniversary this year, the company is putting a sharp focus on diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I). 

“It is important to recognize DE&I as an ongoing aspect of growth that needs to be built into the fabric of an organization’s culture,” says Mike Pilato, president and CEO of the vitamin and natural health product company. “It is an organization’s responsibility to both better itself and the world in which it operates by getting this work started. You can make great progress and will experience some setbacks along the way, but not starting is not an option.”

In 2020, Jamieson Wellness committed to fight anti-Black racism, which evolved into a full-on DE&I movement within the organization. The company established an Advancement of Diversity and Inclusion Council, created an official DE&I policy, and made several commitments. Progress to date includes a new recruitment process to ensure candidate slates for all open roles are equitable; the inclusion of identity-specific communities within recruitment activities; and a mentorship program for employees who identify as racialized persons, women and LGBTQ2S+.

The company has a goal of reaching fair representation of women in leadership and board roles by 2025. To meet its goal, Jamieson is empowering its women leaders to advance through mentorship programs, networking events and by supporting its women’s employees resource groups.

KUDRINKO’S

Kudrinko’s efforts in DE&I extend far beyond the walls of its supermarket in Westport, Ont.

Last year, Neil Kudrinko, who owns Kudrinko’s with his wife Martha, publicly disclosed that he identifies as queer/pansexual. While Kudrinko’s has always had inclusive hiring practices, the public coming out presented an opportunity for Neil, Martha and the company to become leaders in their small rural community.

Kudrinko’s joined The Welcoming Project, which encourages organizations to make LGBTQ2S+ patrons feel welcome, and Neil was successful in getting several other local businesses to sign up as well. The grocer is also the lead sponsor for Westport Pride, which Neil founded in 2021 with former employee Jessica Roberts.

Kudrinko’s made its benefits package more inclusive by adding gender affirmation coverage for trans individuals. The company is also a supporter of PWA Toronto’s Friends for Life Bike Rally, which raises funds to support people living with HIV and AIDS. In August, Neil is riding 600 kilometres from Toronto to Montreal, and Martha is volunteering as a crew member.

“Taking a leadership position in DE&I has helped us attract new staff, develop a more loyal customer base, and [I] encourage my industry peers to make the grocery industry more welcoming to all,” says Neil Kudrinko. 

LONGO’S

Longo’s has long been known for its strong workplace culture, which includes an emphasis on family values. But in 2020, the grocer put a deeper focus on DE&I.

In partnership with the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion, Longo’s established a DE&I Council. Among its initiatives, the council provides the company’s leaders with ongoing education and bias awareness training. For all employees, Longo’s uses an online training platform that covers topics such as unconscious bias and inclusive language.

Longo’s also celebrates diverse holidays and events that are important to its team members including Black History Month, International Women’s Month, Pride and Ramadan, among others. Currently, Longo’s is collecting employees’ DE&I demographic information that will help the company further identify opportunities. For example, Longo’s recently added coverage of gender affirmation surgery to its benefits package.

On the community front, Longo’s has partnered with the Pinball Clemons Foundation and Jamaal Magloire Foundation, which support underserved and marginalized youth by providing education resources and assistance. 

“At Longo’s, we are deeply committed to ensuring that every team member in our community feels safe and supported,” says Anthony Longo, president and CEO of Longo’s. “Our focus on diversity, equity and inclusion helps us build strong cultural connections where everyone has a sense of belonging.”

MUSKOKA BREWERY

Muskoka Brewery is making efforts to address diversity in the craft beer sector. In 2020, the Ontario brewery created Born This Way IPA, with a portion of sales going towards The Get Real Movement, a student-run non-profit that works to combat discrimination and promote acceptance for all. To date, $21,000 has gone towards inclusivity training at university campuses and corporations.

Last year, the company received a Gold Certification for gender parity by Women in Governance, a not-for-profit organization working to close the workplace gender gap at all levels, in all industries. Since 2015, between 40% to 46% of Muskoka Brewery employees have identified as female, and its six-person leadership team comprises three women, including two from the LGBTQ2S+ community.

“Muskoka Brewery is proud of strides made in the past but remains committed to progression and ongoing change to ensure an environment that welcomes everyone,” says Kyra Dietsch, marketing and communications manager. “We look forward to continuing to support our friends at the Get Real Movement and working towards achieving platinum for our next Gender Parity Award!”

While gender equity has been a top priority, Muskoka Brewery is now focusing on equity across all underrepresented groups. The company has partnered with Indspire, a not-for-profit that invests in the education of Indigenous people. In a five-year commitment, Muskoka Brewery is offering a co-op position and a $5,000 scholarship per year. 

P&G CANADA

P&G Canada is working to create meaningful change in DE&I on many fronts. 

Last year, the consumer goods company launched an Indigenous Professional Network (IPN) and donated $100,000 to GlobalMedic to distribute P&G hygiene kits to Indigenous communities across Canada. The company also matched $200,000 in donations to the Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Fund by Unite for Change and launched a national Indigenous student internship program.

To support employees with disabilities, P&G engaged a research firm to interview employees to better understand the disability experience at work. The company also connects employees with disabilities to global P&G support groups and has partnered with universities to encourage more people with disabilities to apply for jobs.

P&G continues to align its brands to DE&I initiatives. This year, long-time Pride supporter Crest partnered with disability and LGBTQ+ advocate Spencer West for Pride. The toothpaste brand’s “Smile With Pride” campaign centred on the importance of raising the next generation of allies.

Pantene launched the third chapter of its #HairHasNoGender campaign in support of the LGBTQ2S+ community. The initiative was inspired by research that revealed 53% of LGBTQ2S+ individuals feel the need to hide their identities at work. Pantene created a film series named “Workplace: Reimagined,” which explores how an inclusive workplace can give LGBTQ2S+ individuals the confidence to express themselves at work.

With its 70-year history in skincare science, Olay is empowering young women to envision a future in STEM through its #FaceTheSTEMGap initiative by highlighting prominent women in the industry. Olay donated $75,000 to the National Girls Program by Actua, Canada’s largest STEM youth outreach organization, and released a limited-edition Retinol STEM jar in collaboration with Walmart.

“At P&G, we believe an equal world is a better world for everyone. We aspire to be a force for good toward a world free from bias, with representation, voice and equal opportunity for all individuals,” says Geraldine Huse, president, P&G Canada. “By championing equality and inclusion efforts both internally and externally, we ultimately drive growth for our business and value creation for all of our stakeholders including employees, consumers, retailers, and the community.” 

SOBEYS (EMPIRE)

Empire has seen the positive impacts of having diverse teams, from driving innovation to delivering great customer experiences. With DE&I being a critical part of its success, the company continues to advance its efforts. 

Empire president and CEO Michael Medline worked closely with senior leaders to embed DE&I into every level of the organization and ensure accountability. For example, 90% of staff at the director level or above developed a DE&I goal, and the outcome impacts their annual bonus. 

Empire implemented a self-identification process to help increase understanding of the diversity of its workforce and set meaningful goals. The company also implemented diversity and anti-racism training across its network.

Founded in 2018, Empire’s Women’s Inclusion Network (WIN) addresses barriers to the advancement of women and provides development and networking opportunities. Today, WIN represents nearly 800 retail and office employees across the country.

On the community front, Empire partnered with Kids Help Phone as part of its “A Family of Support: Child and Youth Mental Health” initiative. The partnership will support two community-based mental health programs: RiseUp and Finding Hope, to connect Black and Indigenous youth to real-time virtual counselling and crisis help.

“At Empire, we understand that fostering a culture of care, trust, respect, and inclusion goes hand in hand with success,” says Simon Gagné, executive vice-president & chief human resources officer for Sobeys. “We’re proud to have driven meaningful change to advance a supportive and compassionate culture. A special thanks to Kerry Tompson and the entire DE&I team on the tremendous work they have done.”

Canadian Grocer’s Impact Awards will be returning in 2023. Look out for our call for nominations in the New Year. 

Winners of the 2022 Impact Awards were first featured in Canadian Grocer’s August issue.