Ferrara sets new goals for diverse workforce, from boardroom to facility floor

By Crystal Lindell —

Ferrara will increase racial diversity in corporate and leadership positions through new commitments that set milestones for progress in diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I), and address how the sweet snacking leader's brands relate to customers and communities.

Ferrara is a racially diverse company with people of color comprising 65 percent of the organization.

Its U.S. workforce is more racially diverse than the general population, driven by Black and Hispanic representation in its production facilities. People of color hold 76 percent of production roles, 27 percent of corporate roles and 18 percent of leadership. Women represent 41 percent of Ferrara's workforce, including 53 percent of corporate roles.

"For more than a year Ferrara has made significant progress in DE&I, building and establishing the right programs, and setting a path towards lasting change to achieve our goal to be best in class," said Ferrara CEO Todd Siwak. "Our 2021 DE&I commitments are ambitious, measurable, and guided by our values in support of our team and communities."

Ferrara’s Diversity and Inclusion goals:

The commitments are designed to strengthen bonds with employees, consumers, communities and partners and include:

Advance people of color and women in corporate leadership. Ferrara is dedicated to a goal of 30 percent BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) representation in director-level and higher positions by 2024 and a goal of women representing 50 percent of director-level and above positions by 2026.

Expand university recruitment. Ferrara is ramping up recruitment and engagement efforts to connect with students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs).

Promote inclusive product marketing. Ferrara is committed to reflecting our consumers' diversity in our innovation, brand strategy and brand communications with multicultural representation in our insights, input from diverse stakeholders during campaign development and increased partnerships with BIPOC content creators and agencies.

Boost philanthropy and foster economic equity. Ferrara will support local communities through annual donations, employee volunteering and in-kind giving. The company will bolster BIPOC entrepreneurs and small business owners through business education, mentoring and other resources to accelerate their growth.

Empathy in the workplace builds on corporate culture

In addition to increasing racial diversity, as an organization Ferrara believes it's imperative to increase diversity of perspective for greater equity and inclusion in the workplace.

To do so, Ferrara has adopted empathy as one of its core company values, as part of an initiative to infuse diversity, equity and inclusion throughout the company.

To begin the process of adding a new company value, a working group of employees conducted interviews across all business units and functions of the sweet snacking leader to understand how DE&I fit into its culture. The team's findings and subsequent recommendations led Ferrara to commit to meeting an expansive series of DE&I benchmarks, ultimately to foster meaningful connections with employees, communities, consumers and partners.

"We conducted an introspective look at our company values to ensure they reflect who we are today and who we hope to become," said Natasha Miller Williams, v.p. and head of DE&I at Ferrara. "Empathy is our ability to see the world through someone else's perspective, then going a step further to seek out and embrace other points of view. The addition of empathy as one of our core values makes us a more thoughtful company in relating to each other, and in relating to consumers to create new, innovative products and to drive impact in the communities we serve."

Ferrara's core company values include empowerment, collaboration, agility, integrity and now empathy. Empathetic workplace teams cultivate trust, readily resolve conflict and strengthen commitments — all of which will help Ferrara continue building a culture of listening and sharing and deliver on DE&I and performance goals.

"Cultivating a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion requires authenticity and accountability. Both rely on our ability to be generous in our interpretations of each other," said Miller Williams. "We continue to seek ways to understand, learn and grow together and are committed to systemic changes to propel our company and communities to a more positive position."

A sustained push for progress

With its new commitments, Ferrara will not only propel its own workforce forward but also aim to spur positive change in the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) space. Ferrara has implemented proven DE&I best practices such as creating employee resource groups, establishing a diversity council, partnering with external organizations that focus on eradicating inequality and launching an internal Sweet Pairs mentoring program.

"Systemic and entrenched inequities were created over generations and we can't reverse their effect overnight," said Greg Guidotti, general manager, sugar confections, Ferrara. "Ferrara is unwaveringly devoted to doing the work, taking material steps forward and going the distance. We are dogged in our pursuit of a more equitable, inclusive workforce, community — and world."

Ferrara is determined to be best in class in diverse representation and inclusivity in the FMCG industry. See the company's complete list of 2021 DE&I commitments at ferrarausa.com.

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