Opinion: Our roadmap for diversity and inclusion brings more than plant potential to life

Last updated: 02-17-2021

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Opinion: Our roadmap for diversity and inclusion brings more than plant potential to life

Agriculture is essential. Its abundance provides a diversity of plants that yield the food, feed, fuel and fiber we need every day. In fact, diverse fruits and vegetables are the very foundation of society — offering healthy diets and uniting our world in more ways than one. At companies like mine, we work every day to bring plant potential to life for farmers, customers and consumers. In the process, we’ve identified and continue to foster the element that ultimately sustains our industry: human progress.

As we continue to celebrate and reflect during Black History Month, more than ever we’re reminded that agriculture is no stranger to the profound impact individuals and communities can have in a multiplicity of ways. As a global company spanning more than 90 countries with thousands of employees, we have learned to welcome and encourage the full range of diverse identities, backgrounds, perspectives and skills — something we honor this month and throughout the year. Experience has proven this is not only the right thing to do, it is also key to advancing our mission.

Inclusivity is a key enabler to advance innovation. It provides the support structure needed to help ensure representation, acknowledgement, engagement and opportunity for all. By encouraging dialogue, promoting employee and community relations, and enhancing accountability, we are committed to bringing human potential to life. We have made good progress, but the journey is long. We have further evolved our strategic plan for equity, diversity and inclusion that identifies and promotes our values and ensures they are not mere words.

One way we put these values into action is through our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). At Syngenta, we are proud to have nine regional ERGs established in the U.S. and Canada. Each includes dynamic employee members — as well as their allies — from traditionally under-represented groups or those who share a common purpose and advance business priorities.

“Addressing and investing in equity, diversity and inclusion creates a culture of engagement built on differing perspectives, which drives meaningful conversations within companies and delivers a productive customer experience,” says Chasity Love-Nkansah, Ph.D., senior analytical chemist and African American Leaders Employee Resource Group co-lead.

While these employee groups advance and enrich our community, partnerships, and collaboration with outside organizations, they help make a lasting imprint on the industry, too.

Ongoing partnerships with organizations such as Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS), the Cultivating Change Foundation and Women in Agribusiness advance our capacity to bring human capital to life and create spaces where diverse thoughts, backgrounds and experiences are not only respected, but celebrated. They bring corporate partners, non-profit organizations and future leaders together with an overarching mission to feed the world. Collaborations like these bring deeper purpose to our work and connect us. By extension, we are humbly reminded that more can be accomplished collectively than apart.

As we recognize and celebrate Black History Month, we’re also celebrating the partnerships that help to enrich the industry. We’re inspired by our friends at the National Black Growers Council and grateful for their partnership to help us bring human potential to life. They provide us, and others, invaluable input into a host of challenges facing Black growers. This relationship also helps to improve the efficiency, productivity and sustainability of Black row crop farmers.

“Syngenta is proud to be a sustaining member of the National Black Growers Council,” says Mary Kay Thatcher, senior lead of federal government relations. “It’s a refreshing group of individuals with whom to partner. Not only do they advocate for the best interests of Black farmers, but they engage to help educate — especially new producers — about new technologies and other innovations to ensure farmers are successful.”

We are continually encouraged and invigorated by the progress made and dialogue had across the agricultural industry, while also recognizing that challenges still exist. Organizations that increasingly focus on equity, diversity and inclusion can help ensure that every person has the opportunity to share, discover, progress, build, innovate, dissent and take part to advance our world — together. This approach offers the most promising opportunity to create a more equitable society and meet the rising global food demands of today and tomorrow.

Ours may not be the only approach, but it does define our diversity and inclusion journey and puts us on a good course with a clear destination in sight.

Brandon Bell is the North American Diversity and Inclusion lead at Syngenta based in Greensboro, North Carolina.

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