Food and beverage giant PepsiCo announced the launch of the Multicultural Business and Equity Development Organization, a new North American unit focused on advancing the company’s initiatives to address inequalities for historically excluded people and underserved businesses and communities.

The key business and equity focus areas of the new organizations will include accelerating retailer business development in multicultural communities, investing in and supporting diverse suppliers and partners, elevating consumer awareness and sales in key multicultural cohorts, and advancing the companies efforts to be an employer of choice for diverse cohorts, among others.

Steven Williams, CEO, PepsiCo Foods North America, said:

“Leveraging this new team across PepsiCo’s beverage and convenient foods businesses will allow us to more quickly scale this important work in communities across North America. We take great pride in the strength of our teams, the power of our brands, and our ability to exceed consumer and retailer expectations. Incorporating and accelerating our equality agenda will now be a new area of strength as we create sustained change in the communities where we live and work.”

The announcement follows the launch last year by PepsiCo of its comprehensive sustainability framework, pep+, encompassing a broad range of ESG initiatives across agriculture practices, climate, water and packaging sustainability, and encompassing community and social goals. One of the key pillars of the framework is PepsiCo’s Racial Equality Journey (REJ), which includes commitments to invest over $570 million towards initiatives increasing Black and Hispanic representation, expanding recruiting efforts, increasing spend with diverse suppliers, and investing in minority-owned businesses.

Kirk Tanner, CEO, PepsiCo Beverages North America, said:

“To take the next step in its Racial Equality Journey, PepsiCo is calling on one of its top executives to lead an organization embedded in the company’s two largest businesses with a focus on providing new educational opportunities, building up small businesses and creating rewarding job opportunities in an effort to support underserved businesses and communities. This is a significant move, which we believe will increase engagement and impact internally with employees and externally with consumers and enable greater progress for the future.”

To lead the new organization, PepsiCo has appointed Derek Lewis as President of Multicultural Business and Equity Development. Lewis has been with the company for 34 years, most recently serving as President, South Division, Pepsi Beverages North America.

In a post announcing the appointment, Lewis said:

“I’m incredibly proud to lead our newly created Multicultural Business and Equity Development organization that spans North America beverages and convenient foods. This new organization will focus on accelerating efforts inside and outside of the company to help address inequalities for historically excluded people and underserved businesses and communities – serving as a next step in PepsiCo’s Racial Equality Journey, while expanding key business programs, such as Pepsi Dig In and key equity programs, such as Pepsi Stronger Together.”