November 02, 2022  

Forging meaningful relationships with indigenous communities

PepsiCo’s RISE Employee Resource Group is dedicated to supporting Native Americans through community engagement and raising visibility for these diverse cultures.

Growing up, Ann Marie Miller was taught not to tell anyone about her Native American roots. She’s now a registered tribal member of the Chickasaw Nation, but for generations her family didn’t share that information freely. “My grandfather was told that he would be discriminated against, that he would lose economic opportunities,” Ann says. “There was a very negative view of our heritage.”

Ann is working to create a different future. Soon after joining PepsiCo as an Associate Manager of Economic Development based in Plano, Texas, Ann took on a leadership role in RISE, the Employee Resource Group (ERG) dedicated to supporting indigenous communities. “Having this ERG made me very comfortable to come work at PepsiCo, because I knew I could be myself,” Ann says.

RISE’s mission is to create and sustain meaningful relationships between PepsiCo and indigenous communities. Raising awareness of these diverse cultures and promoting engagement with them is key to how the ERG works toward this goal. RISE has hosted guest speakers for Courageous Conversations about critical issues affecting Native Americans, such as missing and murdered indigenous women and tribal sovereignty. The group also holds an annual fundraiser benefitting people living on reservations around the country, providing funds and necessities such as diapers and school supplies.

Having this ERG made me very comfortable to come work at PepsiCo, because I knew I could be myself.

In addition, Members of RISE participate in ongoing support for local indigenous communities. PepsiCo volunteers have mentored to more than 200 indigenous college students over the past five years through the RISE Student Advisor Program, offering guidance and career advice. The group is seeking ways to partner with local tribes to create education and training programs that will assist Native Americans in earning frontline jobs at PepsiCo.

“I think it’s crucially important that people in indigenous communities see positive indigenous role models, because that’s something that many not have been exposed to,” Ann says. “By being mentors, we can give them that ability to see educational opportunities and career paths. So, we really just want to forge that connection.”

Ann explains RISE is an important part of strengthening the connection between PepsiCo and Native American communities, both inside and outside the company. “I’m really excited about RISE’s vision going forward,” Ann says. “It shows the impact you can have, especially if we all work together.”