Giant Food Inc. has promised to boost minority hiring and promotion, renewing a pledge that the Landover-based company made with the NAACP two years ago shortly after a $280 million discrimination lawsuit was filed.
Officials with the supermarket chain said at a news conference last week with the Prince George's County NAACP that they will meet at least once a month with Prince George's NAACP officials and review African American representation in the company.
"We want to do something different from the past," said Stephen W. Neal, a vice president at Giant, who said the monthly reviews would require revealing otherwise confidential employment statistics to the advocacy group.
"We believe this is a model agreement," said Edythe Flemings Hall, president of the county NAACP branch. "We're finally going to be more assistance to Giant than an irritant." As part of the two-year agreement, more than 1,000 managers will receive training about how to avoid discrimination and harassment in the workplace, and the company's 25,500 workers will be invited to attend small meetings to discuss problems related to race.
Community welfare-to-work programs will be tapped for new hires, placing some emphasis on recruiting single parents, according to the agreement.
In addition to addressing employment practices, Giant agreed to buy more products from local black business owners and increase its advertising with black-owned media outlets.
Giant also pledged to increase corporate giving to the local NAACP branch. The extra funds will be used for youth programs and administration.
Giant officials would not reveal how many managers at the company are African American, but they did say there has been a 30 percent to 40 percent increase in the number of minority managers employed since a similar agreement was made with the NAACP in 1997.
Among the company's 22 executive officers, three are African American, and five are women.
The 1997 agreement was forged with national representatives of the NAACP and followed on the heels of a lawsuit filed by 11 African Americans alleging racial discrimination against Giant. The 1996 suit has not gone to trial.