Diversity and inclusion is a topic gaining new importance in the wake of recent national and global protests over racial inequities.

This topic — and its impact on the Private Brand and retail worlds — was spotlighted in two compelling sessions during the recent Velocity Global conference.

“In order to address inequities, we need to be truthful on where we are and have hard and heart conversations — by listening, understanding, and acknowledging all people in all walks of life,” said Phyllis Johnson, Senior Director, Own Brands, Catalina USA.

She spoke in a conference panel session called “A Seat At The Table, Why Diversity Matters!”

This panel, moderated by Christopher Durham, Velocity Global’s founder, focused on solutions to achieve higher representation of black individuals in leadership roles —including in Private Brands, retail, and manufacturing.

The session also explored how companies can create more inclusive brands, including for private brand.

“Imagine if a grocery store could look like a beautiful extension of the cultures that walked the stores,” said Zane Adams, Co-CEO of FedUp Foods.  He said the implied message would be, “A space has been prepared for you at the table, and all are welcome.”

Another Velocity Global Session addressed “The Power of I — Inclusion, Innovation, and Impact.”

That session, presented by WISE (Women Impacting Storebrand Excellence), was introduced by Jennifer Linke, WISE Board Chair and Vice President, Brand Management, Federated Group.

The discussion focused on key strategies for accelerating results, including different models and how they support business success.

“Multivariate diversity is really the key,” said speaker Sarah Chartrand, Senior Vice President of Talent, Leadership, and Diversity for Ahold Delhaize. “You need to foster a culture where everyone can be themselves,” including with LGBTQ+, race, gender, age, religion, values, and ethnicity, she said.

Chartrand pointed to her company’s successful Global Diversity and Inclusion Network, which fosters the leveraging of best practices across Ahold Delhaize’s global enterprise, from Europe to the U.S. She also cited the usefulness of Business Resource Groups as a tool for tapping into customer perspectives.

“Your customer is right in front of you, they work for you,” she said.


All presentations from this year’s Velocity Global are now available on demand. If you could not attend, tickets are still available for purchase to gain access to this compelling content.