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Diverse Workforce Crucial for Company Development, Says ADM’s Aurélie Giles – Women in Food & Agriculture

In January 2019, Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) announced its commitment to achieve gender parity within its senior leadership structure by 2030, through a partnership with Paradigm for Parity – a coalition comprised of CEOs, senior executives, founders, board members and business academics who are committed to achieving a new norm in corporate leadership: one in which women and men have equal power, status, and opportunity.

Through its partnership with Paradigm for Parity, ADM among addresses unconscious bias in the workplace, increases the number of women in senior operating roles, with the near-term goal of at least 30% representation in all leadership groups. ADM also seeks to focus on hiring processes, wage gap elimination, internal network development and widespread diversity and inclusion engagement at all levels.

At the time, ADM Chairman and CEO Juan Luciano stated: “We recognise that our success as a company and as an industry relies on developing, creating and growing an inclusive culture and diverse workforce … We believe that true innovation arises from having many different perspectives and backgrounds represented at the highest levels of an organisation, and we have a comprehensive plan in place to promote inclusion in all roles, at all levels at ADM.”

Aurélie Giles is ADM’s Communications Director for the Europe, Middle East, Africa, India (EMEAI) region. Aurélie is a marcom professional with 20 years of experience leading corporate and marketing communications both in agencies and in-house for multinationals across diverse industries. She has been working at ADM since November 2016 and is also part of the Women in Food & Agriculture Advisory Board.

With the Women in Food & Agriculture Summit (https://www.wfasummit.com) only a few months away (December 3 – 4 at the NH Grand Hotel, Krasnapolsky, Amsterdam), we discussed some of the key WFA-related themes with Aurélie.

 

[AgriBriefing] What drew you to the agriculture industry, or to the feed business in the first place?

[Aurélie Giles] The agriculture industry is one that makes a tangible difference in the world and addresses key issues that will determine our future, such as how to feed growing populations more efficiently, combat climate change, eradicate poverty and improve health. It is this that attracted me to pursue a career within agriculture and working for a company like ADM with a clear mission, is particularly rewarding. It’s also an industry that offers opportunity at every level, across multiple skillsets; from research and marketing to engineering and operations – anyone can make an impact.

[AgriBriefing] It would seem that many women in our industry (or in others) work in media relations, corporate communication, crisis communication, as well as in event management. In your view, why is that?

 

[Aurélie Giles] Although there are many women working in these roles, in my experience communications departments tend to have a relatively equal balance of genders. I believe this is due to the ever-evolving nature of the job – the communications sector is a world away from where it was even ten years ago. In my opinion, it offers women and men equal opportunities for both their current jobs and their long-term careers, and it’s this that attracts those creative, driven individuals looking for an exciting and dynamic profession.

 

[AgriBriefing] What would you like to say to encourage organisations to further look into implementing diversity practices at the workplace?

 

[Aurélie Giles] It is vital to consider diversity practices in conjunction with parallel efforts to promote inclusion; if corporate diversity means celebrating and harnessing the differing backgrounds, experiences and outlooks of a workforce, this is only made possible if people feel welcomed and empowered to express themselves fully.

Only a few years ago, diversity and inclusion policies were considered to be attractive afterthoughts – nice things to have, but relatively unimportant to the everyday running of a company. Now, such initiatives are essential for the attraction and retention of young talent who expect their workplaces to be spaces where everyone has equal opportunity to grow and achieve, irrespective of age, gender, race, ethnicity, disability, religion, marital status, sexual orientation or national origin. A key point I would emphasise is that companies must back up their pledges with concrete, measurable actions. Policies such as equal and transparent pay structures, flexible working hours and accessible workspaces not only prove a business’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, but materially benefit employees on a daily basis.

 

[AgriBriefing] Can you think of any examples of women who have served as particular inspirations for your own career?

 

[Aurélie Giles] Throughout my career, I have admired many different traits exhibited by the women I have worked with. One senior colleague, for example, inspires me with the respect she commands from her peers, while another has always impressed me with her wit and charisma. I think it is important to draw inspiration from a host of sources, not just one, and adapt those traits to build your own successful career path.

[AgriBriefing] Why is it important for you to be part of the Women in Food & Agriculture Advisory Board?

 

[Aurélie Giles] I’ve seen first-hand how a diverse workforce helps promote innovation, which is critical in such a competitive industry, and it’s this that underpins my passion for the Women in Food & Agriculture campaign. It’s a privilege to be a part of something that has a true purpose and effects positive change in peoples’ experience of work and the workplace.

 

[AgriBriefing] What are you expecting to learn at the Women in Food & Agriculture Summit in December?

[Aurélie Giles] I’m hoping to exchange ideas and best practices with talented women in my field and learn more about how other companies are planning to tackle issues such as gender parity and creating inclusive cultures within the food supply chain. I’m also looking forward to collaborating with my peers to develop policies that will encourage a wide range of diverse talent to pursue careers in the food and agriculture industry.

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