The Kroger Company: What I Learned From a Category Manager That Changed Our Approach to Supplier Diversity & Inclusion


Angel Colón, Former Senior Director, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Understanding the values and purpose of a diverse supplier program

Kroger’s category managers realized that there was a greater purpose in supplier diversity & inclusion by seeing the communities and lives they could affect would have a lasting impact beyond revenues, profits, and margins.

By choosing to work with locally owned diverse suppliers, Kroger’s category managers are indirectly supporting their local economy. Kroger buys from the local diverse supplier, who then pays wages to its employees, who then use that money to pour into their local economy paying for goods and services.

The meaningful work that category managers have found emphasizes that grocery is a people business.

Kroger’s unique approach to why they work with diverse suppliers helped employees understand the impact they have on their local suppliers. As an example, once a tortilla company entered the supplier program and was successful with increased product sales, the tortilla company was financially able to provide more employee benefits.

Asking questions, listening and finding the meaningful connections between the category managers’ work and the diverse supplier network was key to increasing interest, engagement and making the Kroger program grow. The investment in an economic investment study also assisted in demonstrating the number of jobs and wages that the diverse supplier program created. 


Read more about the content of Kroger's program and Angel Colón’s insights, download the FMI Supplier Diversity Next/Best Practices Guide or check out all the Supplier Diversity Case Studies.