We are driving change in our industry by building a culture that celebrates diversity, fosters an inclusive work environment, and promotes equity across our business and in our communities.
To learn more, view our diversity, equity and inclusion video.
In 2020, we formalized our commitment to making our company and industry a more diverse, equitable and inclusive place to work by adding Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) as our seventh sustainable impact pillar. DEI is an important part of our business strategy, and we have set aggressive goals to increase gender and racial representation in every part of our business, from senior management to suppliers to production partners. We are also taking steps to better understand and model our leadership team according to the diversity within our company and supply chain.
We are executing on our DEI commitments through our Unity & Action program, a $15 million investment in building a diverse, equitable and inclusive company and industry. Our actions are focused on promoting and supporting DEI in three areas: our culture, our supply chain and our community.
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.
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 historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). We expanded our recruitment of diverse talent through these partners in 2020, adding the University of Maryland at Eastern Shore, an HBCU, and the University of Puerto Rico, a Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (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.
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.
“Good” doesn’t stop with our products. It’s in everything we do. From simpler nutrition and ingredient labels on our packaging to harvesting lifesaving pharmaceuticals for use in medical applications, we’re not just producing good food — we’re making good progress toward a healthier world.
We have a great responsibility to support the communities we call home. Through targeted philanthropy and volunteerism, we aspire to make a meaningful impact that addresses food insecurity, advances education and supports the vitality of our local communities.
From industry-leading safety practices and professional development opportunities to competitive benefits and compensation, Smithfield offers a culture and support systems that ensure employee well-being at work and at home, and we strive to lead our industry in occupational safety and health.