At Cargill, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) has been part of our people-first culture for decades. While we’ve made progress, it’s also become evident we need to move even faster. Infusing DEI into the cultural DNA of an organization is key to charting the path toward real progress and change.
Cargill’s headquarters are in Minnesota – with our office just miles away from the location where George Floyd was murdered. This tragedy sparked a global movement, shining a light on the critical need to dismantle systemic barriers around anti-Black racism. I’m proud that Cargill’s DEI priorities include an intentional and emboldened commitment within our company and the broader ag industry around the world.
To move DEI from a commitment to action, accountability is key. This means engraining DEI into everything we do – in the way we write job descriptions, supplier diversity, and community and employee engagement.
The work we do at Cargill addresses some of the greatest global challenges facing food and agriculture— including food insecurity, food safety, access and innovation. We help farmers, ranchers and producers raise the food that feeds billions of us every day. We know the food system can become more resilient and sustainable if we make it more diverse, equitable and inclusive.
While it’s no surprise that agriculture has historically faced a racial equity problem tracing back to slavery in the US, it is important to acknowledge that systemic injustices involving property rights, financing and other exclusionary practices persist for Black farmers today. In fact, they make up less than 2% of the country’s 3.4 million farmers.
To make real progress in this space, Cargill launched the Black Farmer Equity Initiative (BFEI) in 2021 with a focus on increasing the participation, profitability and productivity of Black farmers and ranchers. We’re doing this by creating access to markets, capital, information, and technology. We’ve partnered with the National Black Growers Council and 100 Ranchers, customers, non-profits and others to accelerate this work.
“Programs like Cargill’s Blacker Farmer Equity Initiative provide new ways for Black producers to access markets and sell their livestock and crops,” said Kimberly Ratcliff, BFEI participant and executive director of 100 Ranchers. “We’re looking for an open door where they have been closed in the past. Cargill’s support of 100 Ranchers will help increase Black producers’ bottom line and improve their livelihoods.”
Closer to home, I’m proud of the deliberate steps my team is taking to improve diversity in the legal field – one of the least diverse industries in this country. We’re partnering with the Minnesota Coalition of Bar Associations of Color to join Twin Cities-based law firms and corporate legal teams in sharing the diversity statistics of our in-house legal team. This transparency is the first step in creating real and lasting change in the legal field.
We must continue to learn, and we know we’ll need to be vigilant — applying a diversity, equity and inclusion perspective to all our work and holding ourselves accountable as we would to any other business goal. We also know this is a “must.” Our future, and our future ability to nourish the world, depend on it.