Feed Bites

Ask Julie: How Can We Attract Diverse Talent?

Written by: Sarah Novak   |   April 29, 2022


Labor is top of mind for many of our members and the industry, so we asked three animal food industry experts – all named Julie – for their input on the topic. Julie Zimny is the global human resources leader with Cargill Animal Nutrition; Julie Sexton is the senior vice president and chief human resource officer with Land O’Lakes, Inc. and Julie Coble is the human resources manager with Kent Nutrition. Here is part 2 of 3 of the interview. 

What do we think will be our biggest challenge attracting diverse talent in the future? How can we work now to overcome this?

Coble: Our biggest challenge with attracting diverse talent is ourselves. One idea to help in the attraction of diverse candidates is to make sure you have smart and clever job postings. Dust off those old postings and “jazz” them up. If the posting is uninviting, then one would assume that the culture is outdated and uninviting. It’s a simple step to ensure you are attracting new talent. Once you get your diverse talent in the door, then it’s up to us again to ensure we onboard them appropriately and they feel included and become connected. 

Sexton: We need to be thinking about how to address both the pipeline of talent and making the industry more attractive. How do we attract talent that maybe hasn’t raised animals or worked on/grew up on a farm? Every industry can be learned – and if we look at a broader pool of candidates, we’ll also have more diversity in that pool.

We can all get involved in bringing awareness to the industry through industry groups, college organizations and other national associations; reach out and convey the opportunities, share our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and demonstrate results. We also need to be prepared to support diverse talent in what can often be more rural communities that have small diversity representation. These communities can be very attractive places to live – we need to ensure our talent is supported and welcomed.

It’s not just about the job and the company; it’s about where people live and work every day. 

Zimny: We have worked hard to pinpoint drivers of attrition and make bold moves relevant to those insights.

We’re reimagining the employee value proposition, beyond compensation and benefits, to ensure we’re a destination for top talent.

For example, accelerating the development of those in our pipeline for leadership positions, facilitating stay interviews with key talent pools and launching regional diversity councils to dive deep into solutions to attract and retain diverse talent. We’ve also looked at ways to de-bias our hiring processes to ensure an inclusive approach to bringing new employees on board. Lastly, corporate-wide efforts are underway to invest in “inclusive facilities” to focus on attracting and retaining more women in the feed industry, especially for our front-line operations.

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