The country and alcohol industry have both come a long way in recent years in supporting diversity and inclusivity. Gains in these critical areas are thanks to executives like April Alejandro, Vice President, Multicultural Center of Excellence at Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits.
We recently spoke with Alejandro about the importance of promoting and celebrating diversity and inclusivity.
Beverage Wholesaler: How do you promote diversity and inclusivity?
April Alejandro: It all starts with leadership accountability. Southern Glazer’s drives our family values every single day. For instance, with inclusiveness, our leadership implements workplace initiatives that drive impact.
We must be as diverse as the brands we offer, the customers we supply and the consumers that buy these products.
BW: How have you reached this goal?
AA: In 2020 we were the first U.S. beverage alcohol wholesaler to join the National Minority Supplier Development Council. And we just hosted a crowdsourced employee competition that honed in on diversity and inclusivity opportunities for the organization.
As we eyed the industry this time last year, we recognized the transformation going on within the industry, and knew how important it was to uncover every chance to enhance our multicultural opportunities, and integrate them into our trade-planning practices.
And it’s not just this year. We’ve had long-standing diversity initiatives since day one when Southern Glazer’s came together. It’s very beneficial to our values and culture that employees can bring their whole selves to the office.
BW: Why is promoting diversity and inclusivity so important?
AA: There’s a transformative change in the demographics of our country right now. It’s reshaping our economy and society. It’s changing consumer patterns, along with how we do business and how we market to consumers.
This requires us to be culturally connected and understanding of how the new generation of consumers wants to be marketed to. We ask our suppliers what they’re doing to attract the next wave of consumers into their portfolio.
This transformation is always evolving, and requires us to understand shoppers more than ever.
We’ve always had projections about what the industry would look like in 2020 — and now this is it. The future is now. We have to be able to understand actionable insights for the next generation of consumers, and embed it in everything that we do. Cultural credibility is a pathway to commercial credibility.
BW: Tell us about the Multicultural Center of Excellence.
AA: As we established supplier management business development tools, the Multicultural Center of Excellence came together as a major strategy plank. It’s a reflection of what we do to encourage entrepreneurial impact. We’re attracting more-diverse customers and partners for long-term brand growth.
We live in the most racially and ethnically diverse country. From an LDA perspective, it represents more than $5 billion in projected annual sales. So we developed proprietary tools and insights to remain culturally relevant in what we do.
Most recently, we’ve identified and made commitments to minority-owned businesses and suppliers. And we’ve never had more minority- and/or woman-owned brands in our portfolio as well. We’re identifying those brands to bring more diverse seats to the table.
BW: What’s the future of this look like?
AA: We can realize long-term opportunities and stay committed — and not just do these things as reactions, but as long-term commitments to initiatives around diversity and inclusivity, and making an impact. And we can do it with complete authenticity. More than ever, consumers want to know where brands stand, and that requires authenticity in the commitment to inclusivity.