What white people need to know
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from Frozen & Refrigerated Buyer magazine.
Marcus Adair, VP of sales and marketing at HomeMaker Juice, is a more than 25-year veteran of the grocery industry and often one of the few individuals of color at industry trade shows. In the aftermath of the death of George Floyd and the consequent protests, he believes white people must be willing to have uncomfortable conversations.
“They have to stop assuming and start listening,” said Mr. Adair when asked by Frozen & Refrigerated Buyer for his reaction to what some are considering an awakening for America.
“Just sit down with a minority and let them explain why seeing the death of George Floyd on national TV has become a national cry for all minorities around the world,” said Mr. Adair. “For many, we see ourselves with George Floyd and we all realize that could have easily been one of us. Until white America can see themselves in the very same light, it will be extremely hard to understand why most minorities have such a distrust in the system.”
The lack of diversity in ranks he believes is a clear shortcoming, considering that minorities make up a significant portion of consumer spending. He said minorities “have to fight to get inside the circle” and are often surpassed by less-qualified white counterparts.
“You have to work harder, and constantly prove you belong in a job that you are overqualified for and where you are typically making less money for the same job as your white counterparts. A lot of good people have missed this or either just ignored this,” said Mr. Adair. “White privilege is very strong in America. The social divide in corporate America has constantly stood out to me. These things that people overlook take a tremendous toll on your psyche and mindset. … From an industry standpoint, the good people who are not considered to be a minority must call these things out and no longer remain silent.”
Mr. Adair sees progress but believes society has a long way to go. “More companies are focusing on inclusion now, and those companies are the ones growing the fastest. Companies that have major social and brand challenges are often the ones with a huge lack of diversity at the senior level.”
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What lessons should the grocery industry take around diversity and inclusion from the protests for racial justice? How confident are you that the industry is moving in the right direction in supporting opportunities for Black workers?