Progressive Grocer Independent

JUN 2016

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6 | Progressive Grocer Independent | June 2016 The Diverse Community It's time that retailers ask some tough questions about whether their staff reflects the population of where they operate. L ast month, I attended a store's grand-opening celebration. Te event was attended by people from the industry and potential new customers. Tis particular store was in a new market for the independent retailer; it literally was an introduction of the brand to new customers. After I had walked around and looked at all of the new features of the store — and eaten my share of the food the store would be ofering after opening — I found myself next to two women of color (how they referenced them- selves) whom I didn't know at the time were customers. As they chatted among themselves, a third woman came up to them, clearly perturbed about something. "I counted 17 men with name badges on before I saw a woman," the third woman told the frst two women, "and I didn't see a single person of color." Te frst two women began to scan the area for themselves, and I heard them murmuring, "Well, there's a man of color, but I don't think he works here." Te third woman (who was white) then added, "I don't see how they (the company) think that can fy here." Ten she left as quickly as she had come. But her comments generated an interesting conversation between the frst two women and me. Now, as I mentioned, this was a new market for the company, so the company's management team was out in full force. It doesn't matter which company it is or where it's located, because I think this issue is an industry-wide phenomenon. While I don't know the exact demographics of its other locations, I'd hazard a guess that the new city is one that's more cosmopolitan and diverse than the com- pany's other communities. But the woman's indignation isn't to be taken lightly. It raises questions for all of the industry: Does your store staf refect the diversity of the community? Does your manage- ment team refect the population of your operating area? My guess is the answer is no. Te easiest demographic to look at is gender. Is half your team (both management and store staf ) female? Slightly more than half the general population is, and if your team is a true refection of the population, its makeup should be, too. In this particular store's defense, the store management did have a healthy number of women; not half, but close. Te next question to ask is whether your team refects the racial mix of the neighborhood of the store or region. If it doesn't, why? If you answered no to either question, you most likely have your reasons, but it's time to examine whether they're valid reasons, or merely excuses. Now, I'm clearly a white woman, but this isn't about me getting on my feminist soap box. It's about the industry needing to refect the changes going on in stores' neighborhoods. One reason some retailers may cite is that women or people of color aren't apply- ing for the jobs. I'll give you the beneft of the doubt — although I'd challenge you on whether this is really true or if we've become so used to who we think is the best type of person for a job that we've actu- ally discouraged others from applying — but then how do we get all of the diferent demographics to apply? Maybe the traditional avenues of job advertisement need to be expanded. Maybe we need to expand/change who serves on hiring teams. Maybe we need to drop an encouraging word to work- ers who are great and could move up in the organization. I really don't know the answers, but I do know that con- sumers like to shop where people look like them and refect the neighborhood they live in. And independents are great at knowing and supporting their communities. Wouldn't it be wonferful if your staf, both management and store- level, was truly a refection of your community? PGI By Katie Martin Editor's Note Katie Martin [email protected] Do your store and management teams reflect the diversity of the community? If not, why? Clarifcation: NoQ's headquarters were misidentifed in the April issue's "Click to Shop" technology article. Te company's headquarters are in Ann Arbor, Mich. Progressive Grocer Independent regrets the error.

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