February was a special month at Hormel Foods, one filled with many inspirational tributes to Black history and leaders. Black History Month is a golden opportunity to further awareness of Black history and culture in order to strengthen inclusion and diversity. The month was commemorated with activities, guest speakers and the return of the Martin Luther King Jr. essay contest for schoolchildren, an annual tradition at Hormel Foods.
While the work of the company’s employee resource group BLAACK – an acronym for Black Leaders & Allies Advancing Cultural Knowledge – is year-round, the group helped team members around the globe celebrate the month and promote a greater sense of understanding among all.
Dr. Thyonne Gordon, executive director of Los Angeles’ She Ready Foundation, joined the organization to talk about a special partnership underway. Founded by well-known entertainer Tiffany Haddish, the nonprofit serves children in the foster care system. Gordon is teaming up with Hormel Foods team members to fill bags with the necessities for these children – soap, shampoo, deodorant and other personal hygiene items – made possible through a grant from Hormel Foods.
There were other sessions in February dedicated to Black History Month. In one, leaders of all Hormel Foods employee resource groups discussed their most admired Black leaders, discussing how each one illustrates one or more of the company’s well-established Cultural Beliefs: Safety First, Speak Up, Build Bridges, Results Matter, Create Solutions, Challenge Yourself, and Inclusion & Belonging.
The last session of the month was dedicated to the yearly Martin Luther King Jr. essay contest. Winning essayists, all children of Hormel Foods team members, read their work to senior leaders of Hormel Foods, along with hundreds of team members around the world, including Jim Snee, Hormel Foods CEO.
BLAACK was established nearly 15 years ago as Hormel African American Resource Group (HAARG), one of the first of the Hormel Foods ERGs. HAARG’s work and its almost 200 volunteer members and thousands of supporters have made significant contributions to the inclusive culture at Hormel Foods and shared the voices of many Black leaders. On Juneteenth last year, the group shared the news that it was evolving into BLAACK. It was far more than a symbolic change. Rather, it was designed to make the ERG more inclusive of the entire Hormel Foods Black community and allies. The group recognized that “African American” didn’t represent all Black team members who may identify with another ethnicity. Furthermore, BLAACK welcomes any team member who shares the values and is committed to the mission, whether they identify as Black or as an ally.
Officially, the mission of BLAACK is to support and enhance the professional development of the diverse membership group and to be a valued business resource to the corporation by leveraging the unique Black experience to provide business intelligence and consumer insights to excel in the global marketplace.
And that’s work that deserves to take place every day.