- Kroger announced Monday a plan with 10 immediate and long-term steps that the grocer says will accelerate diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) in its stores, corporate offices and beyond.
- Under the plan, Kroger will triple its sourcing from diverse suppliers, partner with historically Black colleges and universities on talent recruitment and create a DE&I council that will report to senior leadership. The company will provide unconscious bias training to senior leadership as well as diversity and inclusion training for every associate by May 2021 and will reengineer a mentorship program linking diverse employees with senior leadership, among other steps.
- Kroger’s plan comes at a time when retailers across the U.S. are taking a closer look at diversity, equity and inclusion at their companies following this year's widespread unrest and calls for social justice.
The largest grocer in the U.S. has already started several of the 10 initiatives the plan covers. It's currently in the process of creating a DE&I advisory council that will report to senior leadership and be headed up by retail division president Monica Garnes. The council will partner with senior leaders and associate resource and advocacy groups representing Black, Latinx, Asian, LGBTQ, associates with physical and intellectual disabilities, women, veterans, parents and millennials.
Secondly, Kroger is currently developing the unconscious bias training for all of its leaders along with its revamped DE&I training program for all of its nearly 500,000 associates. Those programs will roll out next spring, and come on the heels of the Kroger African American Associate Resource Group, which created an allyship guide earlier this year containing books, podcasts, movies and other resources meant to "spur reflective thoughts, hard conversations and bold actions," according to the announcement.
By 2030, Kroger aims to invest up to $10 billion in diverse suppliers — up from $3.4 billion in 2019. Currently, Kroger works with more than 1,000 minority suppliers, Angel Colón, Kroger's senior director of corporate and supplier diversity, said in the announcement.
Building off of its supplier inclusion program and membership of the Billion Dollar Roundtable, an advocacy organization focused on corporate supplier diversity, Kroger will invest in incubators and accelerators, expand existing supplier relationships and host supplier summits.
Kroger also plans to boost recruitment for diverse talent by partnering with historically Black colleges and universities, Hispanic association colleges and universities, and community colleges; enhancing on-campus immersion activities; providing students with resources and supporting on-campus food pantries.
Additionally, Kroger plans to create a two-way mentorship and advocacy program between high-potential, diverse talent and senior executives, make sure its advertising creative and campaigns include and feature work with diverse groups and influencers, and continue to donate funds to advance racial equity.
The grocery store chain is also encouraging its associates to vote, talking with local and national community influencers and seeking input and stories from associates.
Earlier this year, Kroger created The Kroger Co. Foundation's Racial Equity Fund following the police killing of George Floyd and launched a grant challenge, inviting 14 organizations to apply for a $1 million grant. Kroger has also hosted 30 virtual listening sessions since June to interact with associates.
Input from the company’s associates and “countless communities” helped develop the steps, Rodney McMullen, Chairman and CEO of Kroger, said. “We are approaching this effort with humility, knowing we can't do it alone and don't and won't have all the answers,” McMullen noted in the announcement.
Mass retailers like Walmart and Target have publicized workplace diversity reports and have taken steps similar to Kroger's. Last month, Target announced it will create new programs to retain and advance Black employees.