Sanderson Farms Forms New Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee
Over a decade ago, Sanderson Farms’ diversity and inclusion committee was established to oversee the company’s diversity and inclusion strategy. The committee’s mission today is to attract and sustain a diverse workforce by recruiting, hiring, developing and retaining high-
performing, talented employees from different backgrounds with different life experiences and perspectives who work collaboratively to execute Sanderson Farms’ mission of maximizing shareholder value.
In August of last year, Sanderson Farms’ new diversity and inclusion steering committee was formed to dedicate additional resources to the overarching diversity and inclusion committee’s initial mission and to respond to recent acts of injustice across our nation. Comprised of 15 salaried employees from various roles and divisions throughout the company, the goal of the committee is to help identify opportunities and action items for the overarching diversity and inclusion committee to approve and implement throughout the company.
“At Sanderson Farms, we strive to foster a workplace without barriers where each employee is valued and given equitable opportunity to maximize their potential,” said Hilary Burroughs, director of marketing for Sanderson Farms and chair of the diversity and inclusion committee. “Our ability to serve our customers from all walks of life is enhanced by the positive and creative power that comes from our diversity. For these reasons and many more, I am excited to see the work that the talented members of our new steering committee are able to accomplish for the people of Sanderson Farms.”
The new steering committee meets each month to have in-depth discussions on topics that impact workplace diversity, inclusion and retention. Similar to the purpose of the overarching diversity and inclusion committee, the function of the steering committee is to champion diversity, equity and inclusion by engaging in passionate discussions about the issues and opportunities available to make our company vision a reality.
Recommendations made by the steering committee are presented to the diversity and inclusion committee for review. Once recommendations are approved by the diversity and inclusion committee, each action item is also reviewed by the company’s executive committee for final approval for implementation.
In November, the steering committee held their inaugural meeting, where the discussion was centered around unconscious bias in the workplace. From this initial discussion, the committee was able to identify opportunities for Sanderson Farms to further support diversity and inclusion. The committee narrowed the opportunities for action to two goals, which are to update the existing diversity policy and to form a new mentoring program for hourly employees.
“All of us must make our company a place where each individual is appreciated, honored and rewarded on the basis of their achievement and contribution,” said Romika Wells, director of organization development and training at Sanderson Farms and chair of the diversity and inclusion steering committee. “Our ability to attract, develop and retain a quality, diverse workforce is the key to our success, and I am confident the new mentoring program for hourly employees will be key to our associates reaching their chosen potential in all aspects of life.”
Focusing on developing a new mentoring program for hourly employees titled “In the Lead” became the primary goal for the steering committee. As a result, sub-committees were created within the steering committee to facilitate in-depth conversations and further planning. Steering committee sub-committees consist of the following focuses: create new mentoring program purpose, vision and mission statement; formulate salaried and hourly employee surveys for research purposes; determine program training including expectations, tools and desired employee skill sets; and identify program selection process, desired participant number, key mentors and other program requirements.
“To meet the challenges of our industry, we must continuously strive for a workforce that is diverse and promote an environment that values individual respect, dignity and professional growth,” said Jennifer Franklin, manager of training for Sanderson Farms and vice chair of the diversity and inclusion steering committee. “I believe this steering committee has a unique opportunity to make a truly positive impact. This committee understands the responsibility we have to all employees and to our company. Our commitment to diversity and inclusion is demonstrated through our words, our actions and our deeds. I look forward to the impact this committee is able to make in all three of those areas.”