The Fresh Market has appointed Gerald L. Walden Jr. as its first-ever deputy general counsel and head of diversity. Walden previously served as vice president, head of legal, and will continue to serve on the company's legal team.
The creation of the head of diversity role follows an emerging trend of retailers of all types tackling diversity. Many other food retailers, including Schnucks, Kroger, Walmart, Trader Joe’s and more, have stepped up their efforts to increase diversity and measure their progress in the last few years.
The Fresh Market announced it would donate $250,000 to the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, as well as $50,000 to the International Civil Rights Center & Museum in The Fresh Market's hometown of Greensboro, North Carolina. The new role is part of Fresh Market’s commitment to fighting racism and discrimination as well as strategically advancing and integrating diversity, equity and inclusion values and practices, Progressive Grocer reported.
Walden currently serves on Fresh Market’s Diversity Action Board and has overseen the company’s legal internship program for the last decade. The program offers internships exclusively to minority law students. He has also held several inclusive leadership roles, including as the chair of the North Carolina Bar Association’s Minorities in the Profession Committee, as the president of the Guilford County Association of Black Lawyers, and currently as a board member on the National Employment Law Council and two historically Black universities, PG reported.
“Gerald has built a strong network throughout the organization and the state of North Carolina in his almost 17 years with the company that will help us continue our efforts in providing a more inclusive work environment for team members and shopping experience for our guests,” said Jason Potter, president and CEO of The Fresh Market.
The Fresh Market has promoted diversity in various ways over the last few years, including boosting products from women-owned businesses in March during Women’s History Month. The retailer operates 159 stores in 22 states.
See the full story at Progressive Grocer.