PepsiCo looks to scale equality efforts through new business unit

Businesses across many industries have taken a deeper look at their diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) strategies since social justice protesters rocked the country following George Floyd’s murder in 2020.

PepsiCo’s new unit will operate across its beverage and convenient foods businesses, encouraging a “one-team” approach the company stated would enable the brand to drive sustained change and scale faster.

Lewis most recently served as president of PepsiCo Beverages North America’s South Division, and has played an integral role in the company’s broader diversity and community engagement agenda, the company stated. In his new role, Lewis will lead an organization tasked with ensuring end-to-end business inequalities are addressed. He will report to Kirk Tanner, PepsiCo Beverages North America CEO, and Steven Williams, PepsiCo Foods North America CEO.

PepsiCo outlined a variety of focus areas for the new organization including efforts to better communicate messages about its diversity and inclusion progress to consumers and business partners. It will also be charged with accelerating development in underserved communities and expanding several existing programs including the Black Restaurant Accelerator, which supports Black-owned foodservice businesses, and Juntos Crecemos, which supports Hispanic-run small businesses.

A new focus on equity will also rebrand the existing Pepsi Stronger together community engagement platform with an eye on bringing it increased scale and awareness. Lewis helped to create that program, which includes a variety of grassroots programs, including student mentorship and support for historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), according to the program’s website.

The equity arm is also intended to elevate Pepsi’s reputation as an employer for a diverse workforce; support employee resource groups; and better support salespeople and delivery professionals in the field.

In addition to Pepsi Stronger Together, Lewis oversaw “She Got Now,” an internship program providing career opportunities for students at HBCUs.

Williams said in a statement: “We take great pride in the strength of our teams, the power of our brands, and our ability to exceed consumer and retailer expectations. Incorporating and accelerating our equality agenda will now be a new area of ​​strength as we create sustained change in the communities where we live and work.”

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