Virtual town hall

How PMA helps increase diversity and inclusion in the produce industry

The discussion at this week’s PMA virtual town hall centered around diversity and inclusion, and the steps that PMA has taken to support members in increasing the diversity and inclusion in their workplace. Doug Bohr, Executive Director of the Center for Growing Talent, says: “A series of tragic events last year drew attention to the systemic racism and inequity present in our society. Because of this, PMA was moved to begin a journey to provide resources to our members who wish to understand diversity, equity and inclusion in their own companies. In September of 2020, PMA convened a taskforce to guide that work and since then we have hosted conversations with people both in and outside of our industry to learn why diversity and inclusion matter, what companies in our industry are doing about it and what our role, as an association, is in helping members advance their diversity and inclusion.”
 
This week’s panel consisted of members of PMA’s Diversity and Inclusion Taskforce: Adriëlle Dankier, Commercial Director at Nature’s Pride, Laura Himes, Senior Buyer at Walmart, Kathy Smith, Director of Northern America Strategic Accounts at Bayer US Crop Science and Joe Don Zetzsche, Director of Floral and Blooms Floral Shops at H-E-B.


Top left to right: Joe Don Zetzsche and Kathy Smith. Bottom left to right: Adriëlle Dankier and Laura Himes.
 
Education and support
The Diversity and Inclusion Taskforce has set four key objectives they are working on. Joe Don Zetzsche shares: “The first is to educate ourselves and our organizations on how to define and engender a more inclusive workplace. We have to first work on our own personal understanding and then use that knowledge to educate our members.” Kathy Smith adds: “This objective was kicked off with the launch of the taskforce in September. We aren’t experts on these topics, but we are committed to learning and sharing what we learn with our members. Continued learning will be the key to making us better and more engaged as leaders.”
 
The second objective, Zetzsche states, “is to encourage and support our members in their efforts to promote diversity and inclusion and help them in the long journey of affecting change in our industry and our world.” To reach this objective, PMA has launched a series of educational resources. Laura Himes says: “We are going to have a month-long virtual Diversity and Inclusion program held by CGT starting April 20th. It will last for four weeks with one session per week. This will be free for PMA members. PMA is also expanding their online learning platform with four new courses. Lastly, in September CGT will host a Women’s Fresh Perspectives conference.”
 
Minority-owned companies and diverse talent
The third objective will center around the outreach and development of minority-owned companies in the industry, “so that we can build a more diverse and inclusive membership by engaging with and learning from them,” Zetzsche explains. Adriëlle Dankier expands on this point, saying: “We want to know more about our members and understand their diversity and expand our knowledge base – and we’re asking members to take part in that. We also want to find minority and women-owned businesses to make sure we can help them grow and make connections.”

The fourth and final objective is to find ways to attract and retain diverse talent. “This will be done through the marketing and promotion of career opportunities in our industry. We celebrate all the minority-owned links in our network and need to show them how important they are for us to be able retain the talent. The CGT program Career Pathways has been very helpful in this by building relationships with historically black colleges and universities so that we can focus on where we will have the biggest impact in attracting diverse talent for our industry,” says Zetzsche.
 
Smith concludes: “Diversity and inclusion shouldn’t be discussed only because it’s in the news at the moment or because it’s the ‘popular’ thing to focus on right now. It must be a core value of the company and be so ingrained in the organization that it is talked about all the time. That is how you can remain intentional over time and make real changes on this long-term journey.”
 
Next week’s virtual town hall will focus on how to expand your thinking and leadership to grow your business.


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