MS-A Thesis Proposal Defense: Jaime Garcia Vila

June 21, 2022 2:00 PM EST


Diversity and Inclusion in the food sector: an exploration of practices, enablers, and challenges


Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) strategies have emerged in the corporate sector to create an inclusive work environment for marginalized group, as well as a corporate response to sociodemographic changes. Some of the D&I practices at the corporate level entail changing Human Resources (HHRR) practices, stating a clear commitment to diversity, creating mentoring and sponsorship programs, establishing affinity groups, providing training to counter stereotypes, developing measuring systems, and creating partnerships to advance D&I efforts. D&I practices are implemented along the value chain as well. Supplier Diversity programs aim to change traditional sources of procurement for businesses led by marginalized populations. Companies also adopt Inclusive Distribution Networks when they want to engage with low-income micro-enterprises and entrepreneurs. Despite research across different disciplines, there is still no consensus about the meaning of both terms, diversity, and inclusion.

In Colombia, the food sector firms have an opportunity to implement D&I strategies along their value chain: (i) they generate thousands of jobs, opening a window to hire marginalized populations; (ii) they buy raw materials from smallholder and minority farmers, such as milk, cocoa, fruits, nuts, among others for their production process; and they (iii) distribute their products in businesses located in the base of the pyramid such as small stores located in marginalized neighborhoods. In my master thesis, I aim to investigate how the food sector implements D&I strategies in Colombia, looking at the strategies that firms develop to include marginalized individuals and communities that have been traditionally left out of the system. To do so, I will conduct in-depth interviews with Human Resources HHRR, Procurement, and Sustainability officers at food firms in Colombia to learn about their perspectives on D&I. From a sustainability and management perspective, this study will enrich current discussions around the definitions and practices of D&I. The findings will also help other companies clarify questions about enablers and challenges when implementing D&I strategies.

Committee Members

Dr. Maria Claudia Lopez (Chair), Department of Community Sustainability
Dr. John Kerr, Department of Community Sustainability
Dr. Daniel McCole, Department of Community Sustainability

Tags: department of community sustainability, diversity, diversity and inclusion, food sector, ms-a thesis proposal defense