19 October 2022
With organisations across the world working towards improving diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) within their businesses, WFA is committed to highlighting different initiatives in the sector to allow us to work towards a more fair and balanced industry. Some of the boldest statements we see across food and ag are when organise make their goals in this area public. A move like this does not just demonstrate how seriously the company treats DEI to potential recruits and current employees, but also comes with risk as it opens the organisation up to scrutiny if these are not achieved.
In cases where goals are shared, projects and initiatives must be implemented to ensure they are met. Cargill is one of the largest players in food and agriculture and early 2021 chose to introduce a new strategy for DEI focused on the three key goals. The first is to achieve gender parity, with women holding 50% of leadership positions globally by 2030. The second is to advance underrepresented groups in leadership globally, with Regional Diversity Councils choosing focus areas for their region and in the United States achieving 20% representation of underrepresented groups in manager and above roles by 2030. The final goal is to address anti-Black racism and increase Black Americans and Afro-Brazilians in Cargill’s workforce overall by 20% by 2025.
Jane Gauthier is someone on the front line when it comes to working towards these goals. She is a Talent Acquisition Process Lead for Cargill who has 26 years of experience in human resources and has been with Cargill for 4 years. “It is my job to indirectly lead a team of recruiters that support our business units,” she explained. “I am also acting as the recruiting lead for our Women in Operations Program. This program includes hiring, female engagement and development, inclusive facilities, and promotion to work towards Cargill’s goal of achieving full gender parity in operations by 2030.”
When we spoke to Jane about why Cargill believed it was important to put forward these public goals related to DEI, it was clear she believed it is key to identify your problem areas and then work towards targeted solutions: “In January 2021, Cargill assessed where it faced challenges and introduced a new strategy for DEI focused on increasing leadership representation for women globally and underrepresented groups in each region, and overall representation of Black Americans and Afro-Brazilians.”
“Cargill put forward its DEI goals because it is the right thing to do and makes our business stronger,” Jane added. “At Cargill, we truly welcome employees with different ideas and points of view. As employees, we all have a responsibility in our day-to-day jobs to learn more about DEI and carry that through in actions.”
When it comes to female representation in leadership, there are barriers that we have observed across the food and ag sector. When we asked Jane her views on the barriers given her role in female engagement and development, she believed out-of-date views have had an impact on the careers of women across the sector. “Historically, men’s dominance in the workplace has resulted in less developed networks of female leaders,” she told us. “Such networks play a critical role in mentoring and sponsoring female talent. This is why I think it is so crucial for companies to set up resources for women to gain more leadership skills. Whether that means female leadership networks might offer formal presentations about strategies for leading in business, or even casual get-togethers over wine to build relationships and learn about one another’s businesses and how to help one another.”
So, what are Jane, her team, and stakeholders at Cargill doing to better support the progression of women in the business? “Cargill invests in providing great tools and opportunities for women,” she explained. “Cargill Women’s Network, for example, is a fantastic resource to contribute to the progress towards our gender parity goals along with advancing women in Cargill and beyond. The problem is not solved overnight, and it takes a village to get more women ready for leadership.”
Addressing anti-Black racism is another area that Cargill has focused on in their goals. We asked Jane why her business felt it was important to focus on this area in particular. “DEI is the core value at Cargill, and to be successful we must address and knock down systemic barriers directly,” she told us. “When it comes to addressing this goal, in 2021, Cargill signed onto a new effort called the ‘MLT Black Equity at Work Certification’ that will hold up the mirror to companies and measure their progress objectively. Our participation in this program aligns with our overall approach to DEI, and specifically our goal to address anti-Black racism.”
For Cargill, there are of course benefits to implementing these projects. In terms of recruiting and retaining the best talent, bold moves like this demonstrate they are engaging with candidates and employees from all backgrounds and supporting them through their careers in an inclusive environment. “Additionally, certifications like this will position Cargill as an employer of choice that is committed to improving diversity in our organization, suppliers, and investments, while being an active ally on issues supporting Black equity in society.”
Finally, we asked Jane what other initiatives related to DEI Cargill will be implementing over the coming months to further support the work towards these targets. “We have joined CEO Action for Diversity and the Hispanic Promise” Jane explained. “We are working towards Paradigm for Parity 2030. Our job does not stop here so watch this space as we make Cargill a more diverse and equal place to work over the coming years.”