As “America’s grocer,” Kroger strives to reflect the communities it serves and foster a culture that empowers everyone to be their true self, as well as inspiring innovation and collaboration and feeding the human spirit. The civil unrest across the U.S. after the death of George Floyd and others made Kroger realize it could do more.
To support its associates and inclusive culture, it developed a three-step strategy to speak up, deeply listen and take action.
Some of the ways Kroger spoke up were:
- A CEO letter outlining Kroger’s commitment was sent directly to 182,481 associates’ emails and posted on its company intranet. A second letter in June with a video was sent to associates and millions of customers.
- In partnership with its African American Associate Resource Group, Kroger developed a resource for allyship that was shared directly with associates and posted to the company webpage. It has been downloaded more than 8,000 times.
- Kroger compiled resources and shared a special-edition leadership communication targeted to people managers to help them hold conversations with associates, help their teams navigate racial tension and educate themselves through unconscious bias training, webinars, online trainings, etc.
- Executives engaged in conversations with community partners, including CEO participating in the #OnlineProtest with Dr. Bernice King for open dialogue.
- Kroger hosted Listening Sessions with more than 100 Black associates across 15 divisions with nearly 40 executives, including all of senior leadership, to share their personal struggles and needs to feel more equal and accepted as their authentic selves.
- Kroger surveyed associates to get their perspective on how to improve and where to focus.
- The Kroger Co. Foundation established a $5 million fund to support impactful approaches to advance racial equity with community partners.
- Kroger used feedback from the listening sessions, sought third-party expertise, continued associate feedback and collaborated with leadership to determine its “Framework for Action,” with five focus areas and 10 commitments to create more equitable, inclusive and stronger communities, starting with its own workplace.
- The company established its first-ever Fresh Pitch program where 10 ARG groups presented one business impact suggestion each to leaders—like Shark Tank. Leaders and associates then voted to determine which projects should be executed, and winners received a donation to the charity of their choice. Plans to make this an annual event are underway.
- Kroger encouraged associates to exercise their civic duty by voting, and provided resources to them on how to register, along with bipartisan sites to educate themselves, guidance on how and where to vote and more. The company also encouraged leaders to be flexible and support schedule interruptions to allow associates time to vote if necessary.
- It continues to provide associates with platforms to share their stories and feedback with leaders through listening sessions, an email box, Yammer’s two-way communication capability, virtual leadership meetings and encouraging and supporting team huddles and conversations.
Kroger’s goal internally is to provide awareness of its plan and its progress, as well as provide training and education for its associates. More than 100 Black associates across 15 divisions sat down (virtually) with nearly 40 executives to share their personal experiences and ideas to progress the company forward. More ongoing efforts include:
- As an outcome of associate feedback, additional multicultural Associate Resource Groups are being formed in areas of the company where they didn’t already exist.
- More than 6,000 associates tuned in live to an all-associates meeting focused solely on DE&I, with thousands more watching on replay.
- Hundreds of thousands of associates have received emails from the CEO pledging his support in making Kroger a place accepting of everyone.
- Tens of thousands of associates have engaged in conversations on Yammer and engaged with DE&I content on the company intranet and through internal email channels.
- Millions of customers received direct emails notifying them of Kroger’s commitment.