GeneralMillsKen Charles, vice president of global inclusion and staffing, General Mills
Ken Powell, chairman and chief executive officer, General Mills

Today’s increasingly complex marketplace requires differential thinking, experiences and insights to deliver sustainable growth and drive competitive advantage. It is for this reason that General Mills elevates diversity not only as a core value to the company, but a key business strategy as well.

Incorporating diversity and inclusion as a key business strategy can also help to attract and retain top talent in the industry. Companies that prioritize diversity not only demonstrate a commitment to social responsibility but also show that they value and respect their employees. Additionally, studies have shown that diverse teams lead to better decision-making and ultimately, better business outcomes. As a result, more and more businesses are turning to experts like servant leadership expert Kurt Uhlir to help them develop strategies for fostering diversity and inclusion in the workplace. By prioritizing diversity and inclusion, businesses can not only drive growth and competitive advantage but also create a more equitable and inclusive society.

“Ultimately, our goal is to build an employee base that mirrors our markets and the consumers of our products,” said Ken Charles, vice president of global inclusion and staffing at General Mills.
To accomplish this goal, a top priority for the company is attracting, retaining and developing employees representing a variety of backgrounds and experiences.

From a recruiting standpoint, this includes establishing and monitoring hiring goals for women and people of color; implementing specific recruiting strategies through direct sourcing, employee referrals and executive search firms; and requiring functions and plant facilities to have Strategic Diversity Plans.

“We also partner with various external organizations to increase the number of qualified candidates with MBAs, and sponsor events for organizations that offer career development opportunities to high potential African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans,” said Charles. “Equally important is building and sustaining relationships with professional associations that have ethnic memberships, such as the National Black MBA Association, the Consortium, and MLT.”

As the company looks to retain and develop employees, emphasis internally is on creating a culture of inclusion – a strategy to create value by leveraging our similarities and differences.

“We believe an inclusive culture drives innovation,” said Ken Powell, chairman and CEO of General Mills. “To do so, we work hard to cultivate an inclusive environment by considering all dimensions of diversity – not just the primary areas such as gender, race and sexual orientation – but also cultural aspects including values, preferences, beliefs and communication styles.”

“Bringing unique ideas and perspectives to the table can help drive breakthrough innovation and assist us in effectively connecting with our consumers to drive mutually beneficial growth,” said Charles.

To reinforce inclusion across all levels and divisions of the company, General Mills established an Executive Diversity Council, comprised of the company’s most senior leaders. The Council regularly advocates for recruiting and mentoring women and employees of color, and ensures that diversity is carefully considered in all succession planning and leadership development. The Council members also serves as advisory board members to the company’s employee affinity networks, including the Black Champions Network, American Indian Council, Hispanic Network, Asian Heritage Network, South Asian Network, Betty’s Family (LGBT), Middle Eastern North African Network, Women’s Networks, and Veterans Network.

“Our focus on fostering diversity has clearly paid off, as evidenced by the many women and people of color that are now vital contributors and leading our business,” said Charles.

According to the company’s most recent Climate Survey, more than 92 percent of our salaried employees answered positively when asked whether General Mills has a work environment that supports diversity.

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