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01/28/2022

Top Food Retailers Get Recognized for LGBTQ+ Workplace Equality

Human Rights Campaign Foundation releases 2022 Corporate Equality Index
Marian Zboraj
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Top Food Retailers Get Recognized for LGBTQ+ Workplace Equality
Kroger and Ahold Delhaize USA banners were among the food retailers receiving top marks on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation's 2022 Corporate Equality Index.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation has released its 2022 Corporate Equality Index, the nation's foremost benchmarking survey and report measuring corporate policies and practices related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) workplace equality. Among the companies receiving top scores were some food retailers recognized for fostering a more diverse, equitable and inclusive culture. Below are just some of the companies that have earned the designation of being named Best Places to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality.

For the fourth consecutive year, The Kroger Co. received a top score.LGBTQ diversity, equity and inclusion highlights for the Cincinnati-based grocer include:

  • Establishing a Framework For Action: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion plan to develop and execute meaningful DE&I initiatives to promote greater inclusion in the workplace and in the communities the organization serves.
  • Offering Associate Resource Groups (ARGs) across the enterprise, providing an uplifting community for LGBTQ associates and allies.
  • Providing same-sex partner benefits and transgender-inclusive health care.
  • Partnering with the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce to create and enhance relationships with LGBTQ suppliers.
  • Achieving Billion Dollar Roundtable status for several consecutive years for reaching more than $1 billion in spend with certified minority- and women-owned suppliers.
  • Committing to $10 billion in spend with diverse suppliers by 2030. In 2020, Kroger reached $4.1 billion in diverse supplier spend, representing an increase of 21% versus the previous year.

"As a member of Kroger's Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Advisory Council, I've seen firsthand how committed Kroger is to creating a culture of inclusion for all associates. Leadership has deeply listened to the council, along with our associate resource groups, and our PRIDE [associate resource group] has had a dynamic voice in the conversation about diversity at the organization," said Cole Decker, 84.51° senior product manager and council member. "Last year, we were given the opportunity to create an LGBTQ+ allyship guide for our associates and customers."

Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle Inc. received a score of 100 on the index once more, having first achieved that distinction last year. “We are fiercely committed to creating an inclusive, equitable and diverse work environment where every one of our 34,000 team members feels welcome as a valued member of our community, and we are extremely appreciative to receive this recognition by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation for a second consecutive year,” said Jeremy Shapira, Giant Eagle's chief inclusion, equity and diversity officer. “While our Corporate Equality Index score is evidence that we are progressing in the right direction, we invite and encourage our team members to share their unique perspectives and experiences to help us as we continue to grow and better serve our LGBTQ+ community.”

Shapira added that Giant Eagle would donate $25,000 to LGBTQ+ organizations across its markets to mark the recognition and as part of the grocer’s ongoing dedication to supporting the health of LGBTQ+ communities.

For the third year in a row, Ahold Delhaize USA banner Stop & Shop also made the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2022 Corporate Equality Index. The grocer offers an associate resource group for LGBTQ+ associates and allies to further ensure that the community is well represented and supported across its operations. In 2021, this included $80,000 in donations to several LGBTQ+ organizations across Stop & Shop’s footprint, such as The Door in New York City and the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition. Stop & Shop also held a virtual “pitch session” this past year at which LGBTQ-owned businesses and suppliers had the opportunity to present their products and services to merchandising teams to increase the number of LGBTQ-owned businesses represented on Stop & Shop shelves.

“Creating a space where LGBTQ+ associates and customers feel safe and supported is integral to our company’s success,” said Gordon Reid, president of Stop & Shop. “We’re incredibly proud to receive a perfect score on the Corporate Equality Index once again this year.”

For the 13th consecutive year, fellow Ahold Delhaize USA banner Food Lion received a top score on the 2022 Corporate Equality Index.

"Food Lion has an enduring commitment to create a sense of belonging for our associates, customers and communities,” said Linda Johnson, chief human resources and communications officer at Salisbury, N.C.-based Food Lion. “Through our policies and practices, we continually foster a diverse and inclusive environment where our associates are encouraged to be their authentic selves. We are proud to once again be recognized as a best place to work, which reaffirms our continuous focus on this important work.”

In November 2021, Food Lion was also honored as a Best-of-the-Best company in America committed to diversity and inclusion across all communities by the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce and the National Business Inclusion Consortium.

Meanwhile, another Ahold Delhaize USA banner, Giant Food, also made the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2022 Corporate Equality Index.

“Giant Food is incredibly proud to earn a score of 100 for the fourth consecutive year on the Corporate Equality Index for the policies and practices we have established to foster a workplace that celebrates diversity and inclusion with a focus on our LGBTQ+ associates,” said Robin Anderson, VP of human resources at Landover, Md.-based Giant Food. “From our team members to the greater communities we serve, we are committed to embracing and advancing the representation of cultures, experiences and backgrounds. This recognition is an honor, and we look forward to continuing these efforts through meaningful action in 2022 and beyond.”

Also making the list for the fourth year in a row is The Giant Co., yet another Ahold Delhaize USA banner.

“Each and every team member makes us the brand that we are, and this distinction again highlights our ongoing commitment to creating a workplace culture of inclusion and belonging,” said Matt Lutcavage, VP of team experience at Carlisle, Pa.-based The Giant Co. “We are real people serving real people, which is why at The Giant Co. everyone is respected, valued, heard and welcomed just the way we are.” 

Retail Business Services, the services company of Ahold Delhaize USA, has also earned the designation as a Best Places to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality for the third year in a row, as did Ahold Delhaize's Hannaford Supermarkets banner, based in Scarborough, Maine, and Chicago-based Peapod Digital Labs, the grocer's digital, e-commerce and commercial engine.

“We’re incredibly proud to receive a perfect score on the Corporate Equality Index again this year,” said Roger Wheeler, president of Salisbury, N.C.-based Retail Business Services. “We have a deep focus on building a culture of belonging in Retail Business Services. Being a welcoming place where associates can bring their whole selves to work is core to who we are.”

Also on the list is Providence, R.I.-based UNFI. In the past year, UNFI took a variety of steps to progress its diversity mission:

  • Launched the UNFI Diversity Council;
  • Rolled out belonging and innovation groups (BIGs); voluntary and social-led groups focused on common interest, backgrounds, and demographics with the core purpose of fostering a sense of belonging;
  • Introduced Real Talk, a series of virtual discussions focusing on the intersection of diversity and inclusion with career, wellness and leadership development;
  • Created UNFI Inclusion 101, which educates associates on the LGBTQ+ community, including gender identity and expression;
  • Developed UCount, a way for associates to share more about themselves, including transgender and non-binary identities; and
  • Designed new policies to include workplace gender transition and equal access to facilities.

“UNFI aims to be an inclusive place for all. National surveys indicate that nearly half of LGBTQ+ people are not out in the workplace, and one in 10 have faced discrimination at work. We understand the impact this could have on an associate’s psychological safety and ability to connect with their colleagues. We are proud to receive this recognition and are committed to continue learning and adapting to better serve our associates and customers,” said Guillaume Bagal, VP of diversity and inclusion at UNFI.

    Overall, 840-plus major U.S. businesses earned top marks this year. For more information on the 2022 Corporate Equality Index, or to download a copy of the report, visit www.hrc.org/cei.

    "When the Human Rights Campaign Foundation created the Corporate Equality Index 20 years ago, we dreamed that LGBTQ+ workers — from the factory floor to corporate headquarters, in big cities and small towns — could have access to the policies and benefits needed to thrive and live life authentically," said Jay Brown, Human Rights Campaign SVP of programs, research and training. "We are proud that the Corporate Equality Index paved the way to that reality for countless LGBTQ+ workers in America and abroad."

    Washington D.C.-based Human Rights Campaign Foundation is the educational arm of the Human Rights Campaign, America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for LGBTQ+ people. Its work has transformed the landscape for more than 15 million workers, 11 million students, 1 million clients in the adoption and foster care system and so much more.

    Kroger is No. 3 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. Ahold Delhaize USA, a division of Zaandam, Netherlands-based Ahold Delhaize, is the parent company for Ahold Delhaize’s U.S. companies, consisting of Food Lion, Giant Food, The Giant Co., Stop & Shop and Hannaford, as well as e-grocer Peapod; Retail Business Services, a U.S. support services company providing services to the brands; and Peapod Digital Labs, its e-commerce engine. Ahold Delhaize USA is No. 10 on The PG 100. Giant Eagle, which was recently included in Progressive Grocer’s Top 10 Regional Operators to Watch, is No. 37 on the PG 100, while UNFI is No. 47. 

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