And change it has.
The event now features hundreds of diverse associates who share something of importance to their culture – whether it’s a special dish, a dance, or a story, it’s intended to create a sense of understanding and unity.
Janet Lilly is the market human resources manager, and one of the organizers behind the event. She said the Richmond store’s makeup is what has made the event so successful.
“This store is unique,” Lilly said. “It has 37 different ethnic groups, working under one roof successfully, and remaining highly engaged.”
Throughout the lunch event, associates from across the store share their culture. The event agenda reads like an abridged version of ‘Around the World in 90 Days,’ as speakers and performers take to the stage.
African dance group Melanin Queen kicks off the festivities. Then an overnight stocker, Puja Bakshi, does a traditional Indian dance. By the end of the event, India, Brazil, Nigeria and Mexico are represented through dance.
But it’s not just dancing that occupies the time. There’s food to be had too. Tables covered in cultural dishes, which associates cook themselves, encircle the event. The potluck-style presentation makes it feel like Thanksgiving at your grandmother’s house, were there Jollof rice in place of mashed potatoes.
Heidia Whisenton is a customer service manager, who has been at the store almost five years. She believes the diversity event has a bright future.