Q&A: Judi Kletz talks top-down diversity efforts

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Q&A: Judi Kletz talks top-down diversity efforts

By David Salazar - 08/31/2020

Judi Kletz, a longtime former executive at Procter & Gamble, has seen a lot change in the industry regarding diversity among top-level CPG leaders. Drug Store News talked to Kletz about the importance of setting organizational goals for diversity; how events like DSN’s Top Women in Health, Wellness and Beauty awards can help recognize diverse leaders; and the next phase of her career. 

Judi Kletz

Judi Kletz, a former longtime executive at Procter & Gamble, has seen a lot change in the industry increasingly embracing diversity at all levels and how diversity builds the business. Drug Store News talked to Kletz about the importance of setting organizational goals for diversity; how events like DSN’s Top Women in Health, Wellness and Beauty awards can help recognize diverse leaders; and the next phase of her career.

DSN: During your time at P&G, you were able to see many different areas of the CPG industry. What changes have you seen happen in terms of diversity during your time in the industry?
Judi Kletz: In the past five-plus years, there has been growing intentionality towards diversity at the industry level.  I saw this firsthand at P&G. It started about 10 years ago as we created affinity groups— Women, African American, Asia-Pacific, Gay/Lesbian. I watched it grow and become part of our strategic deliverables as a company. It was driven by intentionality at the top (CEO David Taylor) and executed by articulating specific and measurable declarations — commitments to the number of women on the board, articulating the dates and plans as to how we were going to get to 50/50 representation.

Other companies have done the same. L'Oréal has actually delivered those numbers. P&G is close with women holding 48% of manager positions globally. If David Taylor didn't say “I'm committed to inclusion,” the likelihood of that happening down the ranks — even if there was a lot of enthusiasm for it — wouldn't happen. We know that diverse groups outperform homogenous groups every time. There’s a lot of data to support it. Bottom line, if CPG wants to be considered the ‘industry of choice’ there's going to need to be continued intentionality to bring that forward.  It must be a deliberate part of the culture through affinity groups and through recruitment and through measurement to make that happen.

DSN: What have been some particular success stories and where might the industry still need to make changes to be more committed to diversity?
JK: Some ways we’ve succeeded have been through the integration of other organizations working with the CPG industry. Organizations like the Network of Executive Women (NEW) have taken the time to integrate the strategies and support needed to nurture and grow women within the industry.  They've also taken a very direct stand on women of color as well as looking at how men can help women and how women can help men grown and develop in the industry.

But I would say that it’s still a very white, male-dominated industry, and it has been for a very long time. At the same time, you also have very club- and clique-like organizations — and that makes it difficult for women and for people of color to enter and ultimately succeed. When I started in my industry affairs role, I walked into a number of intra-association board meetings… I was one of a handful of women in the room and my boss at the time was the only African-American in the room.  There's something inherently wrong with that when your organization doesn’t reflect the consumers that you're serving. In pursuing diversity, you have to have intentionality in recruitment, retention and advancement.  Eight years later,  the CPG industry is making progress and is getting more and more intentional, which is great to see and will be critical to serving our consumers and attracting the best talent to our industry.

DSN: What role can efforts to recognize leaders among underrepresented groups — like DSN’s Top Women in Health, Wellness and Beauty — do to grow this mission of diversity?
JK: First, I think DSN’s overall commitment to recognizing the Top Women in Health, Wellness and Beauty last year was a long time coming. What you all delivered was beyond what I think anyone could have imagined. The strong attendance also speaks to a need that it now fills. You don't get people to come together quickly with that level of senior executive commitment for something that is not worthy and needed.

Second, trade media plays a critical role in bridging this gap across the manufacturers, retailers and trade associations. You have the ability and the voice to amplify what those needs are within the industry. And if this year’s event tackles the topic of diversity, then game on. DSN’s ability to amplify this strategic priority will make the industry better. It will highlight an issue, and in highlighting that issue, you also have the ability to follow through on that at every level, from the retailers to the manufacturers to the trade associations, which ultimately brings the discussion to the forefront for the industry.

DSN: You recently ended your tenure with P&G, but I don’t think that means you’re done working. What is your latest effort?
JK: It’s early on, but I recently launched JLK Strategic Ventures. My goal is to build upon the unique insights and perspectives learned in corporate America with the creativity and agility as a business owner to take on today's rapidly changing business issues across the CPG industry.  

I think it's something very much needed in this industry. There is, I think, a rarity in someone having had the external relationships that I've built, as well as the internal business acumen gained at one of the largest corporations within CPG. I’m excited to bring that to organizations and companies to ultimately deliver the return on purpose, return on value and return on investment.