2013 Diversity Women Conference Co-Chair
Eric Watson is President and CEO of the Carolinas Minority Supplier Development Council (CMSDC), a private, non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization, with over 175 corporate members and approximately 425 Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) members. Watson is responsible for the development and execution of strategy to achieve the CMSDC’s vision and goals of advancing business opportunities between major corporations and minority business enterprises in North Carolina, South Carolina and Central Virginia. His responsibilities also include membership and funding outreach, as well as, leadership of day-to-day operations related to services, programs, education, and staff and fiscal management.
Watson has 33 years of experience in operations management, including more than 18 years in the field of diversity and inclusion. Watson has developed strategies that impact business success through creating a vision for managing diversity, designing leadership mentoring programs to promote diversity, and establishing an accountability system for business diversity.
From 2003 to 2013, Watson held leadership roles at Delhaize America, beginning as Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion of Food Lion in 2003. 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 Diversity & Inclusion for all of Delhaize America. During his tenure, Watson was responsible for the development and implementation of the company’s diversity and inclusion business strategy, which encompassed leadership and associate development, measuring progress and creating accountabilities in the areas of culture and environment, diverse supplier development, minority recruitment and retention, education and training, and assisting with growing and sustaining a diverse market presence.
Earlier in his career, Watson held the positions of Executive Director of Diversity and Workforce Capability at the Williams Companies Inc. and 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: Pride Communications-Corporate Diversity Champion Award, Thurgood Marshall College Fund-Award of Excellence, Urban League of Central Carolinas Whitney M. Young Award, Multicultural Forum on Workplace Diversity Trailblazer Award, North Carolina Institute of Minority Economic Development-Corporate Partner Award, La Noticia Excelente Award for Non-Latin Person Most Supportive of the Latino Community, Carolinas Asian-American Chamber of Commerce Award for Leadership and Support, Kappas of Charlotte-Man of the Year Award, the Next Generation Network–Paula Banks Award, The Diversity Forum-Diversity & Inclusion Champion Award, National Council of Negro Women–Brotherhood Award, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Middle Eastern Province Man of the Year Award, Uptown Media Group’s Charlotte Catalyst Award, Savoy Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential Blacks in Corporate America, Uptown Professional Magazine’s Top 100 Executives in America, Charlotte NAACP Corporate Achiever Award, and induction into Livingstone College’s Leaders’ Hall of Fame.
Watson currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Executive Leadership Council (ELC), Calibr Global Leadership Network, the University of North Carolina-Center for International Understanding, The Park in Charlotte, NC, and the Board of Trustees of Bennett College for Women. He is the Board Chair of The Diversity Forum in Charlotte, NC, and Co-Chair of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools African American Males Taskforce. 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 Young Black Males (YBM), 100 Black Men of America–Greater Charlotte Chapter, and the Charlotte Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. He also serves as Lead Partner of the UNC-Chapel Hill–Diversity & Multicultural Affairs Corporate Advisory Partners Group.
Watson holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Livingstone College in Salisbury, N.C.