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TalentReef recently sponsored a webinar with CSP Magazine about Integrating Diversity, Equity and Inclusion into Business Strategy. Speakers included DE&I expert Jayson Council, a social impact expert and faculty member at Columbia University; Kelli Jackson, a second-generation owner of Hank’s Mini Market in Los Angeles; Tanner Krause, the president and CEO of Kum & Go; and Dr. Lawrence Ward, the vice president and dean of campus life at Babson College in Massachusetts. 

The conversation started around the role that convenience stores play in our society and how they can offer much-needed access to resources in their communities. “I think that convenience stores are often best-positioned to understand the needs of the community and the diversity of that community in all of its measures, not the least of which is race, culture, and identity,” said Dr. Ward. 

Truly embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion starts with where stores are being built. “I think that the best operators in the country should be looking at the physical location of our stores as an opportunity to embrace different neighborhoods,” explained Krause. “And it’s not always that diverse neighborhoods rank the highest when it comes to site selection; however, sometimes those are the places that need convenience stores the most.” 

Jackson added, “I think that embracing diversity is this idea that we have to be innovative, and really thoughtful and intentional about the ways that our businesses are showing up in our community. There are patterns and systems that are in place, and we have to say, ‘are those working?’ And if not, how do we start looking at things and doing things in a different way.”  

Some of the strategies mentioned were: 

  • Build relationships with those in your community and get to know them as people vs. transactions 
  • Create a place where everyone in the neighborhood feels welcome 
  • Give back to the community in a meaningful way, whether that’s financial or food donations, volunteering time, etc. 

Other topics addressed in the webinar include: 

  • The role of the convenience store when communities are in mourning or at the center of social justice demonstrations 
  • New models for sourcing employees  
  • Building a diverse company culture 
  • Fostering change in the industry by bringing in new voices 
  • How companies with many locations can build diversity on a local level 

In closing, the key takeaway from this webinar was from Jayson Council:  

“One of the big things when it comes to DEI is if we’re inclusive, and we’re equitable, diversity will be a byproduct. Because we see DEI, we lead with diversity and diversity is representation, but if we were to take those letters and turn them into alphabet soup and rearrange them, if we have equity and inclusion as the forefront, as the framework that we utilize to move forward from a business standpoint, diversity will be a natural byproduct. So I just encourage everyone to remain inclusive and equitable, and then they will see just through trickle-down economics, that diversity will come.” 

Click here to watch the entire webinar on Integrating Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Into Business Strategy, sponsored by TalentReef. 

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