Our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) is fueled by our purpose and values. It shapes our culture and drives business success. As a family nurturing families, we embed DE&I into everything we do. We know that it takes open minds and respect for distinct perspectives to create engaging workplaces, inclusive customer experiences, and strong community partnerships.

Fiscal 2024 Performance Highlights

91% of directors and above set DE&I goals to advance DE&I business success together

91% of directors and above set DE&I goals to advance DE&I business success together

1% increase in corporate DE&I index

1% increase in corporate DE&I index

Expanded the cultivation of a Speak Freely environment

Expanded the cultivation of a Speak Freely environment:

  • 96% of all teammates below director level completed Speak Freely foundational e-learning
  • 89% of all managers and above facilitated team discussions to identify speak freely norms to advance on a culture of inclusion
  • Launched Inclusion Activators from front line to leadership—196 inclusion activators across the business
Advanced our commitment to reconciliation by completing the Aboriginal Relations Phase 2 certification and reduced the gap by 1% in Indigenous teammates experience

Advanced our commitment to reconciliation by completing the Aboriginal Relations Phase 2 certification and reduced the gap by 1% in Indigenous teammates experience

37% representation of women at the senior leadership level in Fiscal 2024

37% representation of women at the senior leadership level in Fiscal 2024

Our Approach

At Empire, we focus on DE&I as an integral part of how we do business. We aim to create a workplace that’s welcoming for everyone, enhancing customer experiences and contributing to better communities.

Renewing Our DE&I Strategy 

Embracing DE&I helps us be more innovative and competitive by better understanding our customers and teammates. It helps us attract and retain great talent, which is critical to moving the business forward. And it helps us live our purpose—to be a family nurturing families.

In fiscal 2024, we updated our DE&I Strategy to focus on:

  • 1. Building a better workplace by being inclusive of our diverse mix of teammates and embracing all perspectives.
  • 2. Creating better customer experiences by understanding and being inclusive of the diverse needs and preferences of customers
  • 3. Contributing to better communities for everyone by supporting marginalized groups through community investment, sustainability, and the important role stores play in their communities from coast to coast.

We focused on embedding DE&I into our business priorities, creating greater accountability measures, listening to marginalized teammates, co-creating action plans, and expanding key performance indicators and DE&I goal setting for leaders. We improved data transparency by improving how we track and communicate progress across the organization. We also advanced our commitment to Indigenous relations, continuing to make progress through the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business certification process.

Fostering Better Workplaces

To ensure we can hear from all teammates and advance a culture of inclusion, in fiscal 2024 we continued to foster a Speak Freely environment. We identified ways to support inclusive conversations more broadly, while leaders at all levels created customized actions to engage their teams. Speak Freely was also included as a fiscal 2024 DE&I KPI for all people managers. Listening to and learning from marginalized teammates remains a key area of focus, as does building on the success to date of the Women’s Inclusion Network. Based on a broad series of discussions, this year we worked with teammates to co-develop action plans to address barriers and foster inclusivity.

Ongoing Diversity of Teams Initiative

Attracting, growing, and retaining a diverse workforce continues to be a key priority to ensure our business is reflective of the Canadian population. Our approach focuses on enhancing diversity at the team level to improve overall performance and to build a strong and diverse workforce succession pipeline for the future. This initiative has been supported by new hiring and selection practices and strategic partnerships to attract a broad and diverse range of talent. To achieve this, we are advancing strategic community partnerships across Canada to highlight opportunities for prospective teammates. We have established strategic employment partnerships with organizations including BlackNorth Initiative, Community Economic Development and Employability Corporation (CEDEC), JVS Toronto, the Indigenous Professional Association of Canada, the Onyx Initiative, Pictou Landing First Nation, and Tent. As an example of our commitment to these partnerships, our President and CEO, Michael Medline, is on the Board of Directors for the BlackNorth Initiative. Additionally, in fiscal 2024, we equipped hiring managers with more information about diversity in our teams and communities, enabling them to evaluate how well stores reflect the communities we serve. More than 90% of corporate store managers completed the Diversity of Teams training to build capability.

Implementing Supportive Policies

In addition to our overarching DE&I Strategy, our DE&I commitments are integrated into and enabled by many of our policies, including our Code of Conduct, Respectful Workplace Policy, and Indigenous commitment statement and policy. Through these policies, we seek to banish all forms of discrimination and reaffirm our commitment to act with respect and integrity, and in compliance with all relevant laws and regulations.  We also operate a comprehensive Open Doors program, which empowers teammates to report workplace concerns related to DE&I. Looking ahead, we aim to enhance our approach to Indigenous relations and improve representation of diverse-owned businesses in our supply chain through our commitment to supplier diversity.

Focusing on Equitable Rewards

We are committed to providing pay equity for all teammates, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or employment type. We conduct gender-based compensation analyses as part of our annual salary review process, reviewing pay differences to consider legitimate factors such as position level, experience, tenure, and contribution to role to address pay disparities. In addition, we complete gender pay equity analyses and post results, in compliance with provincial pay equity legislation. Where required by provincial legislation, we have implemented pay equity plans. We have implemented a company-wide job evaluation system and merit-based salary structure, providing the same compensation levels to women and men in positions of equal value. Since 2021 we have also carried out an annual analysis of performance ratings and merit-based salary increases granted to women versus men. Wages for frontline retail and warehouse teammates are progressing based on hours worked, ensuring equal treatment for women and men.

In fiscal 2024, we continued to ensure that the salaries of all teammates were market-competitive and equitable considering their experience, skills, and contribution. Although this initiative focused on increasing overall internal equity, rather than gender pay equity, the objective and data-driven approach used was instrumental in achieving gender pay equity.

Better Customer Experiences and Supplier Relationships

We aim to create an inclusive customer experience that meets and reflects the diverse needs of customers. Through extensive consultation with supplier diversity partner organizations, supplier partners, and key internal stakeholders, we are implementing a strategy to support underrepresented communities and businesses in our supply chain. This work is essential to reflect and support the diverse customers and communities we serve, to drive innovation and growth, and to foster resilience in our supply chain.

Our Supplier Diversity Strategy builds on the success of our Local Development Program to support new supplier relationships. This effort will ensure that our vendors are aligned with Sobeys’ DE&I objectives to better serve the unique needs of customers in the diverse communities we serve. Read more in Supplier Partnerships.

Advancing Reconciliation Through Stronger Partnerships

We continue to strengthen relationships with Indigenous communities and to advance organization-wide reconciliation efforts through leadership actions, hiring practices, supplier partnerships, and community relations.

In fiscal 2024, we shared our new Commitment Statement to Indigenous Peoples Across Canada and our new Indigenous Relations Policy, advancing the rights and needs of Indigenous people within our communities and workplace. We are in the third phase of qualification for the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) Progressive Aboriginal Relations (PAR) certification. Through this process, CCAB affirms we are good business partners, a good employer for Indigenous peoples, and committed to prosperity in Indigenous communities. We reinforce this commitment through our pledge to direct 10% of community donations towards Indigenous communities.

Diversity ,Equity and Inclusion Diversity ,Equity and Inclusion
Dei pay equity Dei pay equity


Partnering With Pictou Landing First Nation

One example of how we advance reconciliation is our partnership with Pictou Landing First Nation in Nova Scotia. Beginning with respectful listening and conversation with Pictou Landing leaders, we co-developed an action plan that includes investing in food sovereignty, community learning, and employment opportunities. Hear more from former Chief Andrea Paul and team members in this video in English or French.

Partnering with pictou landing first nation Partnering with pictou landing first nation

Listening, Learning, and Launching Inclusion Activators

In fiscal 2024, we invited more than 196 teammates to become Inclusion Activators to champion inclusion in their local workplaces and enable us to learn from more teams and perspectives. We also held a series of listening sessions and sharing circles. These semi-annual conversations allow teammates who identify within a community to discuss any barriers they face as well as ideas for change. Sessions held in fiscal 2024 included hearing from the following communities:

  • Indigenous
  • Francophone
  • Teammates with disabilities
  • Visible minorities
  • Newcomers to Canada
Listening, learning and launching inclusion activators Listening, learning and launching inclusion activators

Advancing a Speak Freely Environment

Leaders across our business are committed to building an inclusive workplace and a Speak Freely environment for all teammates. We provide leaders and teammates with tools and support to:

  • Model Speak Freely behaviours that reinforce active listening, building on ideas, fostering healthy debate and creating a safe space for all to contribute and thrive.
  • Demonstrate allyship as they learn about the experiences of others and champion causes that are meaningful to teammates.
  • Respectfully listen and hear, ensuring the voice of marginalized teammates matter and make a difference.
  • Create a safe space for teammates to take interpersonal risks, speak freely, disagree and debate openly, and surface concerns without fear of repercussions.
Speak freely Speak freely


The loss prevention team has worked with our security vendors to establish industry best-practice methods for mitigating racial profiling and ensuring our contracted services are aligned with Sobeys’ culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion. This work has been essential to building greater inclusion into our business for our customers, teammates, and the communities we serve.”

Tyler Hove, VP Food Safety and Loss Prevention 

Melissa Lee
Learn more about workplaces Learn more about workplaces

Learn More

We’re making our workplaces and communities more inclusive through our Health, Safety and Wellness work and Community Investment initiatives.

As a family nurturing families, we want to ensure Canadians are taken care of today, tomorrow and in the future. By doing OurPart™ for the environment, we hope to inspire our customers to do theirs. Every step we take together—big or small—can make a difference.

Learn More