2012 Gala Co-Chairs - Straight For Equality

straight for equality

2012 Gala Co-Chairs


Eric Watson is Vice President of the Office of Diversity & Inclusion for Delhaize America, which comprises the Food Lion Family of Banners (Food Lion, Bloom, Harveys, Reid’s), Bottom Dollar Food, Hannaford Brothers, and Sweetbay Supermarkets.  He is responsible for the development and implementation of Delhaize America’s diversity and inclusion business strategy. He is also responsible for leadership and associate development, and measuring progress in the areas of culture and environment, diverse supplier development, minority recruitment and retention, education and training, and assisting in growing and sustaining a diverse market presence. 

In October 2003, Watson joined Food Lion as Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion.  From 2007 through 2009, he also served on Food Lion’s Executive Committee and led the Talent Acquisition department.  In February 2010, he became Vice President of the Office of Diversity & Inclusion for Delhaize America. 

Watson has 29 years of experience in operations management, including more than 16 years in the field of diversity.  Watson has developed strategies to impact business success by creating a vision to manage diversity, designing leadership mentoring programs to promote diversity and establishing an accountability system for business diversity.  In his prior experience, he held the position of Executive Director of Diversity and Workforce Capability at the Williams Companies Inc., and was Vice President of Global Diversity for the St. Paul Companies Inc. 

Watson has been a keynote speaker, participated on panels, and given lectures on diversity recruiting and talent acquisition, mentoring, diversity and inclusion business case and strategy, cultural competence, African Americans and Hispanics in the workplace, and supplier diversity.  He has received the following recognitions for his community and diversity & inclusion work:  Corporate Diversity Champion Award from Pride Communications, Thurgood Marshall College Fund-Award of Excellence, Kappas of Charlotte-Man of the Year Award, Diversity & Inclusion Champion Award from the Diversity Forum, National Council of Negro Women – Brotherhood Award, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Middle Eastern Province Man of the Year Award, induction into Livingstone College’s Leaders’ Hall of Fame, La Noticia Excelente Award for Non-Latin Person Most Supportive of the Latino Community, Uptown Media Group’s Charlotte Catalyst Award, and the Next Generation Network – Paula Banks Award.

Watson currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Executive Leadership Council (ELC), and the Next Generation Network (NGN).  He is a member of the Conference Board Council of U.S. Diversity & Inclusion Executives.  He serves on the Board of Directors of the University of North Carolina-Center for International Understanding, and the Urban League of Central Carolinas in Charlotte, where he also chairs the Urban Youth Empowerment Program (UYEP).  He is a member of the Board of Visitors and the Corporate Alliance Program at Johnson C. Smith University, the Board of Visitors at Livingstone College, the Leadership Team of the Community Building Initiative (CBI), the North Carolina NAACP Youth & College Division Advisory Board, Board of Directors of The Park in Charlotte, NC, Lead Corporate Advisory Partner of the East Carolina University - Equity, Diversity & Community Relations Corporate Advisory Partner Group,  a member of 100 Black Men of America – Greater Charlotte Chapter, and a member of the Charlotte Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.

Watson holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Livingstone College in Salisbury, N.C.        

Mark McLane is the Head of Global Diversity and Inclusion for Barclays PLC, a major global financial services provider with extensive presence in Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia. Mr. McLane is responsible for architecting a global diversity and inclusion strategy that will leverage organizational strengths, remain nimble in the every-changing global business climate and enable Barclays to maintain their competitive advantage by driving innovation to its customers.

Prior to Barclays, Mr. McLane was the Director of Diversity and Inclusion for Booz Allen Hamilton, a professional services firm in Washington D.C.  While there Mr. McLane developed and implemented a firm wide diversity strategy including initiatives that leveraged the inherent differences within Booz Allen’s current and future workforce.  Under Mr. McLane’s leadership these initiatives aligned with the organization’s vision of assuring continued growth in an increasingly competitive and global market.

Mr. McLane also held the position of Chief Diversity Officer for Whirlpool Corporation, a Fortune 500 global consumer product company in Benton Harbor Michigan.  Under Mr. McLane’s leadership Whirlpool Corporation successfully implemented a global Diversity and Inclusion embedment strategy positioning the Company as a recognized leader in the industry.  In addition to his role as a human resources leader, Mr. McLane has an extensive background in innovation, strategy development, marketing and sales across U.S. and international markets.

Mr. McLane is a member of the global leadership council at Diversity Best Practices, a member of the Hidden Brain Drain for the Center for WorkLife and co-chair of the Human Rights Campaign Executive Diversity Council.

Mr. McLane holds a B.S in Business Management from the University of Scranton.

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