Private Brand success has always been about quality and price — and increasingly about innovation. But there’s more as well.

A growing number of industry leaders recognize the importance of building diverse teams of associates and partners to drive business momentum and help enhance society.

That message emerged from speakers at the My Private Brand Diversity Summit.  Executives from companies including Wakefern, Albertsons, Ahold Delhaize, Target, and Aurora Grocery Group (Compare Foods, Gala Foods) relayed insights to a global audience about the need to enhance diversity and steps to make progress.

Here are ten key points from the online Summit’s speakers.

  1. Industry Has Big Opportunity: The Private Brand industry has a lot of room to make progress in enhancing diversity across its organizations — which represents an important opportunity, said Christopher Durham, President, My Private Brand, the Summit’s organizer.We want to make sure we’re authentically serving a changing shopper base,” he said. “Retailers and their brands are uniquely positioned to speak to consumers, and building diverse teams is key.”
  2. Commitment Starts at the Top: Leaders are responsible for setting the tone on diversity across their enterprises, said Jonathan Mayes, SVP, External Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer, Albertsons. “It begins with a commitment by leadership to move the needle and make clear this is a priority,” he said. “If leaders send that signal, it leads to more action.”
  3. Balancing Teams is Crucial: Building great teams involves balancing many factors, and diversity is one of those components, said Chris Skyers, VP, Own Brands, Wakefern Food Corp. “You need to make sure you have teams reflective of consumers,” he said. Skyers added that building dynamic teams requires embracing unique backgrounds and encouraging team members to influence change when speaking on behalf of customers.
  4. Consumer Insights Are Essential: Maintaining Private Brand momentum will rely on better understanding diverse customer bases, said Phyllis Johnson, Senior Director, Own Brands, Catalina USA. “Retailers need to know much more about their Private Brand shoppers of color and better understand their lifestyles and which product attributes they are seeking,” she said.
  5. Nurturing Suppliers Pays Off: Target puts an emphasis on supporting minority-owned suppliers in their journey, said Flora Ekpe-Idang, Senior Brand Marketing Manager, who leads the retailer’s Black audience marketing strategy. She described a range of efforts — from a supplier accelerator program to fairs for Black-owned businesses. “Our Target accelerator program gives access and resources to early-stage businesses,” she said.
  6. Expertise is Invaluable: Leveraging input from experts helps to accelerate progress with diversity, said Jen Linke, Board Chair of WISE (Women Impacting Storebrand Excellence), an organization that focuses on increasing diversity and inclusion. Among WISE’s 2021 plans is to partner with a DE&I (diversity, equity and inclusion) consultant/expert to help bring more support and resources to the Private Brand industry, she said.
  7. Goals Drive Change: A powerful way to advance diversity is to incorporate it into employee performance review goals, said Sarah Chartrand McGowan, SVP, Global Talent, Leadership and Diversity, Ahold Delhaize. “Make sure you have a goal related to DE&I,” she said. Examples include quantitative goals related to hiring, promotion or retention, or increases in supplier diversity spend,” she said.
  8. Community Engagement is Imperative: Achieving success in Hispanic-focused retail hinges on staying connected to communities, said Omar Jorge, Chairman, Aurora Grocery Group. “You have to be involved in the community,” he said, citing churches and local nonprofits as important organizations. “Supporting the community helps you stay on top of change.”
  9. Mentorships Yield Results: Speakers at the Summit emphasized the importance of mentorship programs in supporting diverse workforces. Observed Sean Trent, Senior Business Development Manager, Daymon: “It’s not just about attracting employees — promotion and mentorship are great ways to maintain under-represented workforces.”
  10. Wisdom Has No Age Limits: You wouldn’t expect that a fifth grader would be a hit speaker at a Private Brand conference. But that’s exactly what happened when Bellen Woodard spoke to the Summit audience. The 10-year-old girl is the world’s first “crayon activist,” focused on multicultural progress. She is the creator of the More Than Peach Project, which features a line of crayons and coloring books that aims to make people realize peach isn’t the only crayon color that denotes skin tone. “It’s about letting everyone know they are perfect the way they are,” she said.

The Summit sessions can be viewed on-demand for free courtesy of Gold Sponsor MBD. The presentations provide a wide range of important perspectives on the diversity topic. Moreover, speakers answered audience questions submitted through the Summit’s interactive online platform and helped to provide roadmaps for next steps in advancing efforts.