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Produce companies should look at their diversity and inclusion, panel says

Before your company can improve its diversity and inclusion, it has to be honest about what it is now.

“Don’t pretend to be what you’re not when it comes to diversity,” said Johnny Taylor Jr, president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management.

The Produce Marketing Association’s BB #:153708 weekly town hall webinar focused on diversity, equity and inclusion for its July 15 edition.

Taylor said a company’s company culture is important, but those leaders need to talk about their actual one, not their aspirational one.

Rachel Cheeks-Givens, global director of diversity and inclusion for Pfizer, said the global racial unrest has the benefit of creating an atmosphere for better talk about racial issues.

“Today’s environment is better for courageous conversations about race,” she said, than any time she can remember in her career.

Cheeks-Givens said the bottom line of improving diversity within a company still has to work toward profitability and relate to the business.

Taylor agreed, saying that minority workers, who are valued for their diversity, still need to operate within a company’s culture.

“How do we reconcile telling people to bring their ‘authentic self,’ with a company’s goals and culture?”

James Harris, director of diversity and inclusion and supplier diversity for H.E. Butt Grocery Company BB #:106490, said minority employees need to remember they work for a company, not a company’s diversity team.

“You have to understand the culture of the organization that you work for,” he said. “When you talk to your senior leaders, you have to talk in terms of business. You have to understand how your company goes to market and then align your D&I (diversity and inclusion) strategies around your company’s go to market strategy.”

Greg Johnson is Director of Media Development for Blue Book Services