Real Talk, Real Solutions: PepsiCo commits to investing in Central Florida community

1st president of multicultural business, equity development at PepsiCo shares plans

Following the death of George Floyd, there was a racial reckoning that prompted some U.S. companies to commit more heavily to equity in their communities and workplaces.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Following the death of George Floyd, there was a racial reckoning that prompted some U.S. companies to commit more heavily to equity in their communities and workplaces.

In 2020, PepsiCo committed $570 million over 5 years to increase Black and Hispanic representation, help address systemic barriers and create economic opportunities for Black and Hispanic Americans.

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Now, we are catching up with one of the leaders at PepsiCo responsible for driving that change.

News 6 anchor and Real Talk Real Solutions host Ginger Gadsden recently sat down with the first president of multicultural business & equity development at PepsiCo to learn more about his role and how he is using it to strengthen minority communities.

Check out the Real Talk, Real Solutions podcast in the media player below:

Derek Lewis spent 34 years with PepsiCo before stepping into this new position. He says he is passionate about diversity because it’s not just minorities who win when they have the resources they need to succeed, but the community as a whole.

Lewis is getting very hands-on in Central Florida.

“We had a great activation at the Harbor House, we partnered with the Shaquille O’Neil Foundation, The Orlando Magic and the sheriff’s office, we restored some recreational facilities, Boys and Girls Club, it just varies,” he said.

Lewis also focuses his time on an initiative called “She Got Now.” It’s meant to be a celebration of Historically Black Colleges and Universities’ culture and pride for the next generation of female leaders.

HBCUs are near and dear to his heart. He graduated from Hampton University and credits his education there as preparing him for his current role.

It’s a position that he says he had to work hard to get and now that he has it, “it’s time to pay it forward.”

During his conversation with Ginger, Lewis shares some of the things he wishes he would have known when he was younger. For example, dream big, be a continuous learner, build your brand, and understand the power of relationships and collaboration.

He also dives deeper into how he climbed the ladder at PepsiCo and the importance of diversity in the boardroom. To hear more from Lewis and how he is serving the community, listen to the latest episode of Real Talk Real Solutions by clicking here.


About the Author:

Tiffany produces the 4:30 p.m. newscast and has been with News 6 since January 2019. She also produces Florida's Fourth Estate podcast. She graduated from the University of Central Florida with a degree in radio/TV. Tiffany has lived in Central Florida since 2004 and has covered the Casey Anthony and George Zimmerman trials and several hurricanes.