Employees LEAD the Way During Black History Month
Development. Connection. Education. Engagement. Recruitment. Mentoring. Inclusion.
These are just a few of the many benefits inherent in Aramark’s growing network of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), which give voice to the diverse members of the company’s workforce, create a more inclusive workplace, and help shape company culture. Aramark was recognized in 2022 as being one of the Top 10 Companies for ERGs by DiversityInc.
“The DEI team greatly appreciates all of the LEAD members who contributed to an amazing Black History Month celebration. Our ERGs help us develop and engage people across the company, but they do so much more than that,” said Fenimore Fisher, Vice President, Aramark Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). “ERGs help us align workplace practices globally, invest in strategic partnerships, and strengthen our ties to clients, local businesses, and people in the communities where we live and work.”
As one ERG focused on the development and advancement of its members, LEAD (Leaders and Employees of African Descent) comprises team members who self-identify as Black, African American, West Indian, or of African descent, as well as allies.
To commemorate Black History Month this year, LEAD team members organized, led, and participated in a series of programs and events designed to cultivate Black leaders at Aramark, support community projects, and foster a spirit of belonging.
2023 LEAD Summit and Awards
About 100 Aramark employees and guests participated in the third annual LEAD Summit held February 22-24 at Temple University in Philadelphia. The summit theme this year was “LEADing the Way: Fostering Dynamic Leaders That Are Connected, Protected, and Respected."
Educational sessions at the summit included a panel discussion of what it is like to be a Black leader in corporate America post-pandemic and breakout sessions about building voice and confidence in work culture, professional financial acumen, and the importance of health and well-being.
John Graham, Jr., Vice President of Employer Brand, Culture and Diversity at Shaker Recruitment Marketing, and author of the book Plantation Theory: The Black Professional's Struggle Between Freedom and Security, gave the keynote address.
The first day ended with an awards dinner during which the following Aramark LEAD ERG members were recognized:
- Indiana ERG HUB, HUB of the Year Award, for actively working to recruit new members, hold events, and connect with the community;
- Kamilah White and Arianne Phillips, Committee Chairs of the Year Award, for exemplifying strong leadership within a LEAD committee and always willing to go above and beyond;
- Joel Hernandez, Ally Award, for being involved or showing leadership in other ERGs while embodying the true meaning of being an exemplary ally; and
- Michelle Smith, Dynamic LEADer Award, for being an "up and coming" leader demonstrating outstanding leadership skills and excellence while demonstrating the vision and mission of LEAD.
A vendor expo was also held during the summit at which multiple minority-owned businesses shared information about their products and services and interacted with the Aramark participants and other invited partners.
Aramark HBCU Emerging Leaders
Earlier in February, Aramark announced a partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) to launch the Aramark HBCU Emerging Leaders Program.
Through the program, 15 students enrolled in qualifying majors from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) were selected to participate in an immersive experience at the Aramark headquarters in Philadelphia in late February to learn more about Aramark’s organization and culture. Travel, lodging, and meal expenses were covered.
Emerging Leaders participated in simulated work activities to help them better understand Aramark and job functions related to their majors, networked with executives, and learned about internship and employment opportunities post-graduation. They were also invited to participate in the LEAD ERG Summit.
“This program was named Emerging Leaders because we look to these students as the future of our industry and Aramark,” said Jack Donovan, CEO and President of Aramark Collegiate Hospitality. “This partnership demonstrates our commitment to HBCU institutions and the students that they serve. We can’t wait to see how our program participants leverage their potential, and we hope that this experience supports their pathways to success.”
Other Black History Month Events
LEAD members organized and led several educational and community events during the month.
Employees took part in a virtual book discussion concentrated on The Light We Carry by Michelle Obama on February 2 and in an online culinary discussion and exploration February 16.
On February 9, LEAD organized a virtual tour of Ghana’s Cape Coast Castle, one of about 40 slave castles built by Europeans on the Gold Coast of West Africa.
Starting on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day January 16, LEAD teamed up with the Aramark Young Professionals (AYP) ERG and Aramark Community Relations to host a month-long book drive.
The books all meaningfully address DEI, meet school reading criteria, and align with Dr. King’s vision and passion.
More than 600 books were donated and will be delivered to school students in Chicago, Dallas, Denver, and Philadelphia.