Grow Foodservice Rich Wolverton

Diversity and Inclusion are big buzz words with corporations today. As a white guy, it took me a bit to grasp what all this means.

When I worked for one of the top broadline foodservice distributors in the country, the company had ERG’s, Employee Resource Groups. When George Floyd was killed, the Black employee resource group did a lot to educate us (me) on what it is like to be a Black person in our business. Blacks are typically underrepresented in the office and in leadership within our industry. When a young Black person looks at leadership and doesn’t see anyone that looks like them, it must look like there are barriers to success.

One of my team members bravely spoke about her life growing up Black in a dangerous part of a big city. As the one African American on a team of 10+, I respect how she told her story and how different it was from mine. She makes me better.

I was able to join the Supplier Diversity team with the distributor and learned a ton more! I was able to talk to several female and minority entrepreneurs and discuss how to do business in foodservice and retail with them. Talking to young, hungry business owners was invigorating! I hope I was able to help them make some progress in their journey.

There is a long way to go, though. Our business is complicated and challenging. Many Black employees and entrepreneurs are going down the path of foodservice distribution for the first time. Do you remember your learning curve for the first few years?

WHAT CAN I DO?

Look for an opportunity to mentor a fellow employee, a customer or a vendor. Give them the hand up we all need. When working with a diverse supplier, play a role in leveling the playing field. I don’t have this all figured out, but I am working to make a difference for others.  

Make your difference.

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