Our IGA values are what separate us from our competition. We have always served our communities whatever their makeup. Hometown Proud is more than just a slogan, it is part of our DNA. Our corporate values include the following statement:
IGA supports diversity in all its forms. We do not tolerate any form of discrimination, because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, or lifestyle.”
We have stores in urban centers. We have stores in the most rural locations. We have stores that serve poor families and rich, young and old, white neighborhoods, black neighborhoods, Asian, Hispanic, and on and on. And, of course, the make-up of our IGA family is diverse too, representing every color of skin, every ethnicity, and every age. We serve communities around the world, each as diverse and complex as humankind itself. Literally at IGA, diversity is our business model.
The last few weeks have been incredibly stressful, for stores and for our Licensed Distribution Center partners and suppliers, with long hours, challenges in the supply chain, and changes in operations we could have never anticipated a few months ago. The IGA family has managed through this crazy COVID-19 time with bravery and grace and innovation, all of which kept team members and customers safe. We couldn’t be prouder of all you’ve accomplished.
But now, our country is in turmoil. Our streets are filled with peaceful and violent protests; there are riots, police lines, and the National Guard. Some American cities are under curfew. If you are like me, you have a hard time understanding what to say—talking about issues like race is hard.
But as I found today when I gathered my own team to talk about how to write this blog, real change happens when we listen, when we work to understand each other, and when we put politics aside to lead with the compassion and care that is at the heart of every IGA store I’ve ever had the privilege to enter.
I encourage you to gather your associates and have a frank discussion of these issues. Our stores need a law enforcement system that is safe and just; our communities need a way to call out injustice, but to do it peacefully. You will likely find—as I did with our team in Chicago—that your associates have a lot to say about about the issues facing your community, and our country at large.
I’ve thought about what I would do if it were my family’s store, located in a city where emotion and anger have exploded onto the streets. Of course, the first step is to ensure you and your associates are always safe; second, to have a plan and know what to do if violence of any form enters our stores. Check out FMI's resources on crisis management and stay tuned to this page for insights on how to build an action plan for times of civil unrest.
Third is to be blunt about our policy. I’d post the IGA value statement on the front of my store, on my website, in my break room. And finally, I’d engage my associates in a discussion about how to serve our community when that community is hurting.
Frankly, it is what IGA does. It is what we have always done. And doing the right thing is what we will always do.