Sysco: Strengthening Our Commitment to DEI and Ensuring the Long-Term Effectiveness of Our Initiatives

At Sysco, our Purpose—connecting the world to share food and care for one another—guides us in all we do. As the global foodservice leader, we know the important role food plays in bringing people together and creating connections, and we aspire to do just that through our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).

With this in mind, Sysco’s DEI team developed a three-year “Better Together” DEI roadmap with help from our Global DEI Advisory Council, comprised of Sysco colleagues from various demographic and career backgrounds.

This roadmap will guide our journey as we embed our strategic priorities throughout the business. In prioritizing our commitment to DEI, we are building a business that offers everyone—our customers, our colleagues and the communities we serve—a seat and a voice at our table.

Leaders Must Commit to Actively Driving Change

Effective DEI initiatives can positively change a company’s culture and business if the company’s leadership takes an active stance and sets the tone from the top. I credit Sysco’s Board of Directors, president and chief executive officer Kevin Hourican, and the executive leadership team with strengthening our company’s commitment to DEI and ensuring the long-term effectiveness of our initiatives.

This top-down commitment has driven tangible change at Sysco; for example, half of the current executive leadership team is racially and gender diverse, compared to the majority white male executive team in place three years ago. Additionally, we developed internal processes to increase promotion opportunities and remove barriers for traditionally underrepresented groups, increasing Black colleagues who have filled officer-level roles since 2020, among other achievements.

Drive Accountability: Set Goals and Transparently Measure Progress

A key element to our DEI roadmap is setting measurable goals and reporting our progress publicly. By being transparent about our successes and our opportunities, we hold our company accountable to the expectations of our colleagues, customers, investors, and communities.

For example, in 2018, we set a goal to achieve 62% gender and ethnic diversity in Sysco’s U.S. workforce by 2025, which we’ve reached two years ahead of schedule. As a result, we introduced two new publicly stated goals in 2022: increasing global gender representation for roles at the Management-level and above, and requiring a slate of diverse job candidates when filling roles at the Director-level and above.

Goals such as these advance our efforts to build a diverse workforce and create an inclusive and equitable workplace where all colleagues feel respected and safe sharing their unique perspectives. The benefits of such an environment include increasing our company’s problem-solving ability and innovation, giving us a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

A Holistic Approach to DEI

At Sysco, we recognize the benefits a DEI focus can bring to all areas of our business, including offering on-trend flavors and products that represent global cultures. That’s why our roadmap includes a focus on supplier diversity. In 2022, Sysco established formal partnerships with the five major councils that certify diverse suppliers and hosted our inaugural Supplier Diversity Summit.

We are working to expand our supplier diversity program from our core food products business to include many of the indirect services that support the organization. Diverse suppliers who do business with Sysco will soon have access to a robust mentoring program to help ensure sustainable success and growth throughout our partnership. Moreover, Sysco is committed to increase its purchases with certified diverse suppliers by 25% by 2025.

By building partnerships with diverse suppliers, we can offer a more diverse product and service portfolio to our customers, affording us an edge relative to the competition.

The journey to create a diverse, equitable and inclusive culture is long. While we still have much to do to achieve our goals, Sysco is wholly committed to this journey. As the industry leader, we must continue to Be Better as a company and lead by example.

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