We value a work environment that works for everyone.
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Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Fostering a Diverse and Inclusive Culture

A diverse workforce allows us to benefit from a variety of perspectives and strengthens our global competitiveness. As Smithfield grows, we continue to invest in a diverse and inclusive workplace where our employees can learn, develop and reach their full potential.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Highlights and Achievements

Smithfield employees — our 63,000-strong essential service workforce — were put to the task in 2020. We are proud to say they not only met but exceeded the demands of the moment. As the widespread health and economic impacts of COVID-19 became increasingly apparent in the early part of the year, our employees emerged as heroes who, together with thousands of family farmers and supply chain partners, successfully sustained the U.S. food supply during extremely trying times. Alongside the challenges of the pandemic, 2020 also highlighted difficult truths about race, justice and opportunity in the United States.

We are committed to providing opportunities for every one of our heroes across every aspect of our business. Our new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion pillar, with its ambitious goals and targets, reflects our intent. We are investing in a learning culture that creates career paths for our employees. Our comprehensive Unity and Action strategy, announced internally in June, details our commitment to foster a diverse and inclusive Smithfield business through investments in educational and supply chain initiatives, which are now well underway.
Operations Leadership Program

We celebrated the graduation of the inaugural cohort of our Operations Leadership Program (OLP), a key component of our Unity and Action strategy designed to create a robust pipeline of diverse candidates to fill management positions within our company.

Fostering Career Diversity

We launched our two-year $5 million commitment to build access to and foster diversity in food education; agriculture; and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers.

Inclusive Agricultural Future

We pledged $10 million over three years to remove barriers to funding for minority farmers and suppliers to help build a stronger, more inclusive agricultural future.

Our Goals And Targets

In our continuing commitment to sustainability, this is a new pillar for 2021.
Our Goal: Ensure a diverse and inclusive workplace and culture that respect every employee and support a more equal and just society in our communities.
Improve education programs by investing $5 million over the next two years to provide access to quality education and bridge divides in communities.
Dedicate at least $10 million over the next three years in targeted funding to build a stronger, more inclusive agricultural future by financially and technically supporting America’s minority farmers.
Over the next year, implement a minority contract grower program to increase the number of diverse hog suppliers within our agricultural supply chain.
Increase production facility spend with minority-owned businesses by 14% to achieve a more inclusive supply chain by 2025.
Over the next two years, further diversify our Smithfield Foods Scholarship Program for the dependent children and grandchildren of full-time and retired employees to include additional historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
Over the next year, formalize a dedicated training and career development program to identify, train and mentor our people to create a robust pipeline of diverse candidates to fill management positions.
Our focus is a strategy for diversity, equity and inclusion where everyone has a role to play."
- Schwanzetta Williams, Vice President of Talent Acquisition and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Building a Diverse, Equitable and Inclusive Business

The year 2020 gave us pause to reflect on the importance of unity and the need for action in light of the ongoing conversation calling for a more inclusive, equal and just society. Our journey toward creating a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace started many years ago, and our Unity and Action strategy extends this long-standing commitment to ensure our employees can feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work. While we recognize that the fabric of our workforce is already very diverse, we know there is more we can do to promote equity and inclusion. Whether on farms, in our facilities, through our supply chains or in the communities we serve, we are intent on developing dedicated programs to make a meaningful impact by strengthening diversity in our management ranks, creating educational opportunities to attract diverse employees and broadening diversity across the agricultural supply chain.


While we recognize that the fabric of our workforce is already very diverse, we know there is more we can do to promote equity and inclusion.

Our Commitment to Our Employees

ADVANCE: Learning and Development Opportunities

Smithfield’s learning and development programs provide a range of educational resources to help our employees excel. Pivoting exclusively online in 2020, Smithfield University engaged thousands of employees in more than 7,200 hours of leadership across close to 55,000 courses. Our four-year maintenance apprenticeship program, launched in 2019, expanded at the end of 2020, to include 30 apprentices. Offered in partnership with nine Smithfield facilities and schools in North Carolina, Nebraska and Missouri, apprentices received college tuition, salary and benefits as they work toward their associate degree, a journeyman’s certificate and full-time technician status.

Our Unity and Action strategy, announced internally in June 2020, acknowledges that our management ranks need to more fully reflect the fabric of our workforce, and we have committed to identify, train and mentor our people to create a robust pipeline of diverse candidates to fill management positions in our company.

Our Operations Leadership Program is designed to get us started. Over the course of the three-month program, eligible employees participate in one-on-one coaching and mentorship, on-the-job training and weekly full-day virtual classroom sessions to build cultural awareness, communications skills and a deep understanding of the Smithfield business across operations, finance, quality assurance and other facets of our organization. We celebrated the graduation of our inaugural cohort in December 2020 and are on track to enroll 175 participants over the program’s first year.

ENGAGE: Networks of Like-Minded Colleagues

Smithfield’s Employee Business Resource Groups (EBRGs) continue to help us foster supportive communities that create a sense of equity and empowerment among like-minded colleagues while strengthening professional and personal connections across all organizational levels and operating areas.

Our Women’s Connect, Smithfield Salutes, Black Professional Network (BPN) and Smithfield NEXT groups worked through pandemic limitations to continue to build powerful connections among their members and positively impact our business. Their activities included professional development opportunities for women at the annual Women in Agribusiness Summit in September, new mentorship opportunities for veterans created through its affiliation with Smithfield’s ACHIEVE mentorship program and vital insights from our BPN to support the development of our Unity and Action strategy.

Strengthening Employee Development and Engagement at Our International Sites

Despite COVID-19 restrictions in 2020, we continued to advance our employee development and engagement efforts at our international operations. In Romania, we implemented a certification program in our fresh-meat division, focusing on technical skills across four levels of excellence. In Poland, we began to implement employee recommendations gathered through our first employee engagement survey, executed in November 2019. In 2020, we implemented approximately 50% of the more than 250 recommended initiatives. We expect to complete our follow-up survey in 2021.

RECOGNIZE: Employee Contributions to Our Collective Success

Each year, Smithfield celebrates employees who exemplify our guiding principles of Responsibility, Operational Excellence and Innovation (ROI) through our ROI Awards program. We received a record-breaking 481 nominations and reached 100% participation from across our global operations in 2020. ROI Award winners received a $5,000 prize, with a $10,000 Grand Prize Award to the best nominee in each category.

Our Commitment to Future Leaders in Food and Agriculture

We believe that education opens doors to opportunities, and we are committed to helping students in communities everywhere achieve their dreams.

Among the many ways we recruit great employees is through our long-standing partnerships with HBCUs and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU). We expanded our recruitment efforts of diverse talent through these partners in 2020, adding the University of Maryland at Eastern Shore, an HBCU, and the University of Puerto Rico, an HACU member, to the campuses where we seek out exceptional talent. Partnerships like these help Smithfield in its efforts to recruit high-caliber, diverse graduates who specialize in agriculture, business and engineering — academic areas of study that are exceptional fits for our organization.

Through our Unity and Action strategy, we are building on initiatives like these to advance access to quality education and bridge divides in communities. Our $5 million two-year commitment, announced in November, offers the foundations for long-term science education through scholarships for minority students; investment in a diverse K–12 student pipeline focused on food, agriculture and natural resources careers; STEM learning opportunities; and access to the internet for students living in underserved rural areas.

Ongoing initiatives include:
  • Smithfield Foods Future Leaders Program, a $2 million investment in minority students whose course work aligns with our business. Diverse rising seniors who have successfully completed Smithfield’s summer internship program have the opportunity to receive an early offer of employment to start a career with Smithfield following graduation. As part of the offer, they receive a scholarship to cover the cost of their senior-year tuition. This program is fundamental in securing diverse future leaders for our company.
  • Support for the North Carolina Business Committee for Education, a nonprofit that offers classroom and real-world learning to prepare North Carolinians for jobs. We committed $2 million over two years to provide wireless hotspots to better connect students in rural areas as well as address long-term internet solutions for underserved communities.
  • Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS), with a two-year commitment to train future agricultural workers. Our $500,000 grant will support students interested in food, agriculture and natural resource careers through scholarships to HBCUs, summer stipends for research and immersion programs as well as STEM grants to teachers and advisors to support local chapters.
  • Heritage STEM Camps Foundation (HSCF) support, valued at $300,000 through 2021, to fund the not-for-profit’s mid-Atlantic efforts. Our grant provides funding for a STEM Summer Camp aimed at encouraging female students ages 12 to 18 in North Carolina and Virginia to leverage learned skills to gain confidence, drive meaningful change in subsequent careers and grow financially.
We also renewed our partnership with An Achievable Dream Academy (AAD), a K–12 program committed to racial equity in education. Our $200,000 grant will fund core components of AAD programs, provide career-readiness training and develop a cultural competency task force. We have partnered with AAD since 2004. Nearly 50 Smithfield employees have children currently at AAD or are alumni of the program themselves.

Our Commitment to Diversity in Agriculture

We know that diversity within our employee and leadership ranks promotes innovation. We believe the same is true across the agricultural supply chain. Yet, just 5% of farmers in the United States identify as Black, Indigenous or people of color. Through our Unity and Action strategy, we aim to change that.

We have pledged $10 million over the next three years to build a stronger, more inclusive agricultural future by financially and technically supporting America’s minority farmers. This includes a commitment to implement a minority contract grower program to increase the number of diverse hog suppliers within our agricultural supply chain.

We have also targeted to increase spending across our processing operations to minority-owned businesses. Our aim is to grow our annual spend by 14%, to over $105 million by 2025, to better reflect the communities where we live and work across our supply chain.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Spotlights

At Smithfield, we want to ensure that each employee and job candidate is embraced for their unique strengths and background.
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Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Schwanzetta Williams, VP, Talent Acquisition and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Schwanzetta is driving our new diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives throughout our business to create career pathways.


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Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Smithfield Foods Scholarship Program

We have committed to diversifying our Smithfield Foods Scholarship Program to include additional HBCUs.

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Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Voice of a Smithfield Farmer

Charles Locklear, a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, has been a contract farmer to Smithfield since 1991 and is passing off the importance of producing food responsibly to his sons.

Our 2020 Sustainability Report outlines our efforts to make a lasting impact in our process and policies. It is a wide-reaching view of how we want to hold ourselves to the highest standards.

Download the report