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Two groups representing women executives recognized this week the progress made by the grocery industry in the area of workplace diversity. Ron Hodge, CEO of Delhaize America Operations, accepted the Network of Executive Women’s (NEW) Outstanding Champion Award on behalf of his company during a presentation ceremony at FMI 2010 in Las Vegas, while Executive Women of New Jersey (EWNJ) paid tribute to Ann Marie Burke, VP of human resources at Wakefern Food Corp., among other honorees, at its Salute to the Policy Makers 2010 Awards Dinner at the Hyatt Regency New Brunswick in New Brunswick, N.J.
“I can’t say enough about the importance of NEW,” Hodge said, upon receiving the award from NEW president Alison Kenney Paul, a principal at Deloitte, as two dozen representatives from Delhaize America looked on from the audience of over 100 food industry executives. “We are doing the right thing for our business by supporting women — I think it gives us a competitive advantage.”
“Delhaize America invests in its associates and makes advancement and training a core corporate value,” added Paul. “They not only believe in diversity, integrity, embracing differences and a strong work ethic — they act on these values.” Five members of the Delhaize America’s executive committee are women, and three of them serve as banner presidents, she observed.
Salisbury, N.C.-based Delhaize America’s many active NEW supporters include Food Lion president Cathy Green. Delhaize America executives have helped organize regional NEW groups in the Carolinas, Florida and New England, and have spoken at many organization events.
The award marked the first time that NEW has recognized an entire company with its Outstanding Champion award. Among the award’s previous winners are Supervalu CEO Jeff Noddle and Jamba Juice CEO James White, formerly of Safeway.
NEW is the consumer products and retail industry’s largest diversity organization, with over 2,700 members representing 400 companies and 63 national sponsors.
Delhaize America is a member of the Brussels-based Delhaize Group and operates the banners Food Lion, Bloom, Bottom Dollar, Hannaford Brothers, Harveys, Reid’s and Sweetbay.
“To be honored by the EWNJ … really speaks to Wakefern’s many programs and initiatives that reward, recognize and encourage the development of our current associates and the recruitment of future talent,” said Burke. “Many times at recruitment events, great candidates who may have marketing and business degrees, walk past the Wakefern table because they don’t see the supermarket industry as a place for them. Our team reaches out to let them know about Wakefern and the tremendous opportunities they can find here.”
Burke was one of 37 honorees recognized for their professional achievements and contributions to their organizations. “Since 1980, the Salute to the Policy Makers has become a prestigious list of the Garden State’s most accomplished women,” noted EWNJ president-elect and 2010 Salute Dinner chair Donna M. Meade, who is also executive director of the JFK Medical Center Foundation.
Proceeds from the biennial dinner will fund EWNJ’s scholarship program, which has given over $1 million in scholarships to more than 300 New Jersey women enrolled in advanced-degree programs at New Jersey institutions since the program began in 1986.
Keasbey, N.J.-based Wakefern, the largest retailer-owned cooperative in the United States, comprises 46 members who individually own and operate over 200 supermarkets under the ShopRite banner in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware.