CDO Series: Sysco’s Adrienne Trimble

Following the murder of George Floyd, the role of Chief Diversity Officers has become more important as companies started to be more intentional with their diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, which has made the last few years tumultuous for many CDOs.

In the latest installment of a series of articles dedicated to catching up with CDOs who have moved in recent years to discuss their experience, what the move has done for them, the work they’re doing and the advice they have for other aspiring or current CDOs, DiversityInc spoke with Adrienne Trimble, Vice President, Chief Diversity and Culture Officer at Sysco.

Interview with Trimble

DiversityInc: You worked at National Minority Supplier Diversity Council for a couple of years. Can you talk about that experience and what impact it had on your perspective on DEI work? What were some of the most important lessons you bring into working at a company like Sysco?

Adrienne Trimble: “That time at the National Minority Supplier Development Council was the highlight of my career. Being able to be a voice and advocate for minority businesses during a global pandemic when most of them were facing supply chain shortage disruption was a highlight. From a professional perspective, I learned just how important it is to really understand how you can help people [learn] where they are in terms of DEI, understanding where they are in their journey and how you can help bring them along. For example, at that time, I was working with a White House Administration that really didn’t distinguish between small businesses and minority owned businesses. Those of us who have been advocates and champions for disenfranchised or underutilized businesses understand that there are unique circumstances that impact them and how do you begin to level the playing field so that they can be able to perform at the same level as other companies. Understanding that and being able to articulate it in a way to get those who can influence policies and resources to be able to provide for them, that was probably the biggest learning point for me.”

DI: What sort of impact has the move to Sysco had on your career and how would you describe your time with the company thus far?

AT: “When I joined Sysco in 2021, I became the company’s first Chief Diversity Officer. As I mentioned, there was already some groundwork that had been laid. It gave me the opportunity to come in and build a strategy that would move the company forward. We were able to build a three-year DEI roadmap that we’re now operationalizing and in the process of implementing and executing. The impact I’ve been able to have just coming in has been incredible because it allowed us to understand the parts of the business that we needed to leverage DEI to make us a better business, to make us more competitive and make sure that we were hiring the right people.

“Since I joined, I have assumed responsibility for our culture, engagement and overall employee experience for the company. That’s been an incredible opportunity to really show how the work does tie to our purpose, which is to connect the world to share food and care for one another. We are embedding that in everything that we do in our DEI strategy is the foundation for that.”

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