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KCC’s Abernathy kicks off NEW multicultural conference

Sunday, March 06, 2011  
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More than 200 consumer products and retail executives seeking diversity dividends for their organizations converged at the fourth annual NEW Multicultural Workforce Conference, March 1-3, 2011 at the Westin Buckhead in Atlanta.

Robert Abernathy, group president for North Atlantic Consumer Products at Kimberly-Clark, launched the conference with an after-dinner talk Tuesday, March 1. Abernathy said he was "frustrated by the statistics that show that while 50 percent of our workforce is women, only 15 percent of our executives are women and less than 3 percent of our CEOs” are female. He said "20 years is too long to wait” for progress on diversity.

"We need a workforce that looks like our consumer base," Abernathy said. "We have a long way to go.”

NEW Chair Michelle Gloeckler, senior vice president for merchandise execution for Walmart Stores, opened the general session by telling attendees they have the power to change their companies. Conference executive advisor Mike Byron, vice president of supplier diversity for Supervalu, urged attendees to become "inclusionists and tap into the beautiful mosaic that is America.” Conference co-chair Jeffery Tobias Halter, director of diversity leadership strategy for The Coca-Cola Company, welcomed attendees to Atlanta and presented a plan of action for the two-day event.

The opening day featured two keynote speakers: Holly Moore, senior vice president and director of global accounts for The Futures Company, who addressed "Diversity: The New Normal" and Dr. Sondra Thiederman, author, who spoke about "Bias Free Leadership.”

Unveiling a new report

Alison Kenney Paul, vice chair and leader, U.S. Retail Practice for Deloitte, led a report out on "The Changing Consumer and the Workforce Imperative,” a just-released Network best practices paper developed with the help of Deloitte. 

Discussing ways to leverage today’s diverse workforce were Nicola Johnson, a principal in Deloitte’s Retail Practice; Dian Emerson, vice president for diversity and inclusion at Safeway; and Annie Zipfel, director of Owned Brands for Target Corporation.

Wednesday also included three concurrent sessions:

"Leveraging Employee Resource Groups” was moderated by Erby Foster, director of diversity and inclusion for The Clorox Company. The panel featured Jim Norman, vice president of diversity for Kraft Foods; Martha Freitas, assistant manager, human resources, Southwest Division, The Kroger Co.; and Todd Sheldon, senior vice president and general counsel for Supervalu.

Phyllis Jefferson, vice president for learning and organizational development from InclusionINC, moderated "Building Culturally Competent Leaders.” The panel discussion featured Shirley Engelmeier, CEO and founder of InclusionINC; Wanette Wise, vice president for category management and shopper insights at the Kellogg Company; and Tim Massa, vice president for talent management , corporate human resources for The Kroger Co.

"Creating Advanced Strategic Relationships” was hosted by Subriana Pierce, senior vice president sales and merchandising, Albertsons, Supervalu. Panelists were Vanessa Evans, former vice president for customer development for Johnson & Johnson; Jackie Parker, vice president for global inclusion and diversity for Newell Rubbermaid; and Lisa Reynolds, vice president for consumer engagement at Valassis.

The day concluded with a gala reception and dinner at the World of Coca-Cola in downtown Atlanta. The reception and dinner, hosted by Coca-Cola, featured special remarks by Jerry Wilson, senior vice president and chief customer and commercial officer for The Coca-Cola Company.

Video highlights
Conference photo album
Download presentations (members only)
Report from closing day

Robert Abernathy, group president for North Atlantic Consumer
Products at Kimberly-Clark, with Alison Kenney Paul, vice chair
and leader, U.S. Retail Practice at Deloitte.


Jerry Wilson, senior vice president and chief customer and
commercial officer for the Coca-Cola, addressed the
reception at the World of Coca-Cola March 2 in Atlanta.



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