It would be great news anyway, but the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) foundation's recent assertion that food, beverage and grocery companies are ahead of the pack in corporate LGBT inclusion was particularly heartening, as it proves that the industry – long considered the preserve of white males – is growing ever more diverse, in a reflection of the growing diversity of its shoppers.
In fact, some companies, including Denver-based WhiteWave Foods, a new sector participant in HRC’s 2016 Corporate Equality Index (CEI), received a perfect score of 100, in common with longtime participants Brown-Forman Corp., in Louisville, Ky., and Diageo North America, in Norwalk, Conn. On the retail side, standouts include Delhaize America (another perfect scorer), and Giant Eagle and Whole Foods Market, both of which saw their ratings rise from 2015.
"From your neighborhood grocery store to the brands in kids' lunchboxes, the companies behind our most familiar household brands are also companies that have led on equality for LGBT employees," noted Deena Fidas, director of the HRC Foundation's Workplace Equality Program. "From equitable benefits to inclusive nondiscrimination policies, food and grocery chains are invested in attracting and retaining top talent – proving that an equitable workplace for all employees is simply smart business."
Progressive Grocer knows full well the industry's ongoing commitment to inclusion, having just hosted its annual Top Women in Grocery awards gala and networking event in Orlando, Fla. Paying tribute so publicly to women from across the grocery retailing spectrum – Senior-Level Executives, Rising Stars and Store Managers – and every corner of the country is an important way of shining the spotlight on women's enduring contributions to grocery.
Interestingly enough, our male attendees (colleagues, friends and loved ones of the winners) seemed just as excited and proud to be there as the female guests of honor. This demonstrates that the will is there to keep making strides toward greater inclusivity, with programs like Top Women in Grocery to help lead the charge.