The Kroger Co., America’s grocer, today announced its Board of Directors has been named a top 20 finalist for the 2022 NACD Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Awards. The awards recognize boards that have improved their governance and created long-term value for stakeholders by implementing forward-thinking diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) practices.
“We believe this work is never complete,” said Ronald Sargent, Lead Director and former Staples, Inc. Chair and CEO. “Under the board’s leadership, we have achieved important progress and we will continue to support investments and policies that improve diversity, equity and inclusion for Kroger associates and our communities. The Board is honored to be recognized by NACD.”
Kroger’s Board of Directors holds management accountable for delivering and executing the company’s DE&I goals and encourages continued investments to achieve measurable change, including its ongoing commitment to develop a workforce that better reflects the racial and ethnic diversity of the communities served by Kroger. The Board of Directors is an independent board, with 64 percent of the body representing diversity by gender or race/ethnicity.
“Kroger has worked to achieve great strides in creating an equitable boardroom,” said NACD president and CEO Peter Gleason. “NACD is proud to honor the Kroger Board of Directors for advancing DE&I in their boardroom and throughout their organization.”
“As America’s grocer, Kroger is driven to bring Americans together as an employer, grocery provider and community partner, representing Our Purpose to Feed the Human Spirit,” said Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s chairman and CEO. “We are proud to receive this recognition; however, our work continues. We will continue to listen, learn and act to transform our culture and our communities. I am especially proud of our associates who embody Our Values and so honestly shared their insights that were instrumental in shaping Kroger’s Framework for Action.”
In 2020, Kroger established the Framework for Action: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion plan to accelerate and promote greater change. The plan features five areas of focus:
Create More Inclusive Culture
Kroger strives to reflect the communities it serves and foster a culture that empowers everyone to be their true self, inspires collaboration and feeds the human spirit. To advance Kroger’s long-term DE&I commitments, the grocer established a DE&I Advisory council that reports to senior leadership and aligns with the organization’s transformation and innovation focus. Kroger has also successfully provided unconscious bias training to all company leaders and nearly half a million associates have completed training courses in DE&I.
Develop Diverse Talent
Kroger continues to intentionally recruit, develop and advance diverse talent at every level of the business, including leadership. Kroger works with 53 Historically Black Colleges and Universities and institutions serving Hispanic, Asian American and Pacific Islander and Native American students.
As part of this commitment, the grocer established a two-way mentorship and advocacy program between various associates who represent diverse talent and senior leaders. This two-way mentorship program supports the professional development of these associates and provides leaders with more opportunities to listen, learn and act, further accelerating organizational change. In 2022, Kroger adopted a performance measure for every leader to actively mentor and develop at least one associate with a different background different from their own.
The grocer, which has achieved Billion Dollar Roundtable status for 14 consecutive years, is committed to building an inclusive, equitable and sustainable supply chain through its award-winning Supplier Diversity & Inclusion Program. In 2021, Kroger spent $4 billion with diverse suppliers and has promised to increase that spend to $10 billion annually by 2030.
Additionally, Kroger is committed to reviewing its portfolio of media collaborators on an ongoing basis to ensure relationships align with Kroger’s Our Values and diverse customers are reached through marketing spend, collaborations and strategy.
Advance Equitable Communities
In 2021, as part of the Framework for Action, Kroger allocated $5 million to The Kroger Co. Foundation to establish a new Racial Equity Fund with the mission to lift up communities of color by building sustainable partnerships that create more equitable, inclusive and stronger communities. Under this Fund, Kroger launched the Build It Together grant challenge. The challenge invited 14 organizations to submit proposals on strategic actions and initiatives to advance racial equality. Four organizations, including Black Girl Ventures, Everytable, LISC and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, were each selected to receive a $1 million grant.
In 2022, Kroger contributed an additional $5 million to the Fund and has directed a total of $5.1 million in grants to non-profit organizations advancing meaningful change.
To create a culture of civic engagement, Kroger encourages associates to register and exercise their right to vote. By providing nonpartisan resources and agreed-to flexible work schedules, associates can prioritize voting.
Deeply Listen and Report Progress
Kroger is committed to the continued engagement of external stakeholders to seek perspectives and co-create more just and equitable communities. Since the development of the Framework for Action, company leaders have engaged in dozens of one-to-one conversations with local and national community influencers as well as organizations, policymakers, trade associations, small business owners and chambers of commerce, seeking insights and guidance to transform Kroger’s culture and the communities it serves.
The grocer has also pledged to provide associates with platforms to continue sharing their stories and feedback with leaders, conducting more than 30 listening sessions and introducing a new interactive platform for associates at all levels to express their ideas on how Kroger can become a more inclusive and equitable workplace. The insights gathered were instrumental in creating the Framework for Action.
In addition to measuring the progress of Framework for Action, Kroger evaluates specific DE&I outcomes that are influenced by areas of focus. The improvement of recruiting, retention rates and staffing of diverse associates across all levels of the organization are assessed on a quarterly basis.
Visit the NACD DE&I Awards site to learn more about the gala and other 2022 NACD Diversity, Equity and Inclusion award finalists. Winners will be announced at the NACD DE&I Awards Gala at Gotham Hall in New York City on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022.
For more information on NACD’s commitment to the advancement of DE&I at the board level and for further insights, trends and perspectives on this issue, please visit the NACD Center for Inclusive Governance™ and the NACD Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Resource Center.