Private brand retailers have both an opportunity and imperative to make progress with diversity and inclusion.

That is the take from retailers speaking at Day One of the My Private Brand Diversity Summit.

“If you’re designing products for consumers, it’s good to have people involved who look like the target consumers,” said speaker Jonathan Mayes, SVP, External Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer, Albertsons.

“Diversity is important in own brands teams,” he added. “It’s also good to look at diversity of suppliers and other organizations you partner with.”

 

 Flora Ekpe-idang, Senior Brand Marketing Manager, Target, who leads the brand’s Black audience marketing strategy, outlined how the giant retailer is making progress with diversity. Target’s efforts center on its Black Beyond Measure platform and campaign, which includes an exclusive Black History Month collection of items from Black designers and businesses.

“I am proud that Target is showing up and supporting Black brands and creators in the community,” she said.

Another speaker, Omar Jorge, Chairman of Aurora Grocery Group, which operates close to 60 Hispanic-focused stores, under the banners Gala Foods and Compare Foods, from Massachusetts to North Carolina, said that creating effective Hispanic programs is often difficult for traditional supermarkets.

“If a food retailer’s employees don’t speak Spanish, and if the retailer hasn’t focused on produce and meat, then it’s just paying lip service to serving Hispanic customers,” he said.

Christopher Durham, President, My Private Brand, opened the Summit with a perspective on why focusing on diversity in the private brands industry is important. He pointed to increased U.S. demographic shifts and growing social equity conversations.

“Retailers and their brands are uniquely positioned to authentically speak to consumers,” and building diverse teams is key, he said.

The Diversity Summit, conducted via an interactive online platform, drew more than 300 registrants — including retailers, suppliers and other industry executives — across 14 countries. This forum is the kickoff event for a 2021 series of My Private Brand online Summits, on Design (5/12-13), Innovation (9/22-23) and Sustainability (12/8-9).

Meanwhile, there’s a lot more coming in Day Two of the Diversity Summit on Thursday. Speakers will include Chris Skyers, VP, Own Brands, Wakefern; Sarah Chartrand McGowan, SVP Global Talent, Leadership and Diversity, Ahold Delhaize, and Bellen Woodard, the world’s first Crayon Activist and Authentic Multicultural Crayon Pioneer.