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PepsiCo: Winning with Diversity and Inclusion

Employer Case Study: Learn about PepsiCo's efforts to support employees with disabilities and caregivers.

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Promoting a diverse and inclusive workplace is one of PepsiCo’s corporate goals. The company believes that “diversity brings new perspectives into the workplace and encourages innovation, as well as the ability to identify new market opportunities.” PepsiCo recognizes that supporting workforce diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) is not only the right thing to do, but also the smart thing to do for business. These efforts include a commitment to disability inclusion.

Watch videos about PepsiCo's disability inclusion efforts.

PepsiCo’s commitment to cultivating an environment of inclusion and success for people with disabilities is evident through a number of efforts. In particular, the company’s disability-focused employee resource group (ERG), called EnAble, champions inclusion of people with disabilities and provides support for employees with disabilities and those who have family members with disabilities. EnAble has chapters across various divisions throughout the company.

Kevin Fitzpatrick, Senior Compliance Manager for PepsiCo’s Employment Law Team, is responsible for developing affirmative action plans for each of the company’s more than 560 business sites. He shared with EARN how PepsiCo leveraged its high-intensity, competitive environment to encourage employees with disabilities to self-identify so that the company could better gauge progress towards its disability inclusion goals.

As a federal contractor, every five years PepsiCo is required under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act to conduct a company-wide campaign to invite employees to voluntarily self-identify as individuals with disabilities. PepsiCo goes beyond that requirement by conducting self-ID campaigns twice a year, in March and October. In 2019, the company decided to do something “big and bold” in the hopes of increasing employee self-identification rates. Mr. Fitzpatrick and his team understood that the self-ID campaign would be competing for attention with other company initiatives in a workforce he describes as “high-energy and fast-paced.”

To inform the effort, Mr. Fitzpatrick spent more than six months traveling throughout the country to identify PepsiCo employees with disabilities or family members with disabilities to highlight in a series of short videos. PepsiCo had previously created similar videos, but with larger groups, not individuals. From that experience, the company found that individual stories proved to be more compelling.

The resulting employee spotlight videos, each about 90-seconds to two-minutes in length, were released weekly throughout August and September 2019. Each focused on a top-performing PepsiCo employee with a disability or a family member with a disability. The employees in the videos work in a variety of jobs and represent various divisions throughout the company, from corporate offices to manufacturing and distribution plants. The EnAble ERG supported the effort by acting as the “boots on the ground” to identify and help screen potential subjects for the videos.

PepsiCo amplified the campaign during National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) in October with the release of the composite “You Belong Here” disability awareness video. “You Belong Here” combines the weekly videos into a single feature interspersed with messages of support from senior leadership, including PepsiCo’s Chairman and CEO Ramon Laguarta. PepsiCo’s corporate communications team worked with Communications Boards at facilities throughout the company to ensure that all of the videos were shown in high-traffic areas such as hallways, conference rooms, and other places where employees regularly spend time.

The communications team also coordinated with leadership at manufacturing sites to arrange for the videos to be screened at events such as shift changeover and “State of the Plant” meetings. This multi-pronged approach ensured that the messaging permeated to all levels of the company. The fact that senior leadership was actively involved in this effort and featured in the “You Belong Here” video also reinforced the importance of the campaign and attracted attention from employees. However, what resonated with employees were the authentic stories of the employees highlighted in the videos, Mr. Fitzpatrick said.

In addition to the videos, PepsiCo developed an incentive program that leveraged the company’s competitive culture to encourage employees to self-identify. PepsiCo invested more than $100,000 in the initiative, which involved raffling off $200 gift cards at each of the company’s more than 560 business sites. To be eligible for the raffle, employees had to log into PepsiCo’s online HR system and fill out the U.S. Department of Labor’s Voluntary Self-Identification of Disability Form to indicate whether they have a disability.

Leadership at all levels of the organization then received a weekly scorecard that tracked their team’s progress so they could ensure they were engaging employees in the initiative. PepsiCo also leveraged internal communications channels to promote awareness of the incentive program. Further, the EnAble ERG championed the campaign at the local level through regular communication and at events such as town hall meetings. With support and engagement from all levels of the company, the self-identification campaign was deemed a success.

According to Mr. Fitzpatrick, the formula for a successful self-ID campaign includes: early awareness and continual communication, a thorough understanding of an organization’s corporate culture, engagement of leaders at all levels, and the development of tools for tracking the impact of the campaign. He also emphasized the importance of educating employees about how broad the term disability is, and all of the conditions covered under it. Understanding what is meant by the term helps employees recognize that disability is something that impacts a large part of PepsiCo’s workforce—and thus a disability-inclusive environment is essential to both individual and organizational success.

PepsiCo's efforts to create and support an inclusive workplace culture for people with disabilities earned the company the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) inaugural Excellence in Disability Inclusion (EDI) Gold Award in 2020. Administered jointly by DOL's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFFCP), the EDI Awards recognize federal contractors that excel in efforts to recruit, hire, retain and advance people with disabilities. 

In 2021, PepsiCo released the You Belong Here video series and a video message to further demonstrate its commitment to building an equitable and inclusive culture that enables all employees to be at their best and have equal opportunity to realize their full potential.