Tommy Swearingen has the privilege of meeting a lot of employees in his job as human resources manager at MegaMex Foods. Even so, he remembers vividly the day in 2008 when Porsche White crossed his path. What’s more, in the years since their first meeting, he’s been able to watch her make a difference in the life of Hormel Foods and perhaps more important, in the lives of its workers.
“I’ve had a front-row seat witnessing this amazing growth and the contributions and impact that she has made,” says Tommy. In addition, he adds, she is steadfast in her commitment to the importance of diversity and inclusion.
Indeed, Porsche believes furthering the diversity and inclusion platform of Hormel Foods is one of the most important aspects of her job as a manager for the company. She also understands well that when people feel accepted for who they are, they are inspired to do their best work. It’s a lesson she learned firsthand.
Porsche is an African-American woman who identifies as lesbian. “I’m a minority in so many ways,” she says. Yet, from day one, she has felt like she belonged at the company. That’s a deal-maker for her. “Being accepted for who you are with Hormel Foods is very important. It allows me to do the best job that I can for the company.” As a manager, it also allows her to “help give others a voice.”
Porsche is now part of the team at Don Miguel in Dallas, a joint venture of Hormel Foods. Her latest position as quality and process control manager marks another time in her nine years with Hormel Foods that she relocated for a job with more responsibility. Her initial role was a supervisory one in 2008 in Atlanta, the city she identifies as her hometown.
I felt for the first time in my life that I had a company that invested in me. And that investment? You just want to give it back 10 times over.Porsche White
Porsche came to the Hormel Foods plant in Atlanta, Ga., when she was 28. She brought with her experience and two college degrees: a bachelor’s in forensic science and a master’s in operations management. She was at home right away, she recalls. “I felt for the first time in my life that I had a company that invested in me. And that investment? You just want to give it back 10 times over.” The same wasn’t true for others in her family. Porsche remembers her mother, an accountant with a large corporation, never getting the recognition she deserved.
Porsche is passionate about doing her part to ensure a different experience for those she works with. She serves on two of the nine employee resource groups (ERGs) at Hormel Foods. The groups bring people together around common interests or backgrounds and in this way, contribute to the company’s growth and innovation. In addition, the volunteer-led ERGs are a critical part of the company’s efforts to bolster the diverse and inclusive work environment of Hormel Foods.
Porsche signed on soon after joining the company. She currently serves as vice president of Hormel African American Resource Group (HAARG). According to its charter, the group serves to “support and enhance the professional development of its members and be a valued business resource to our corporation by leveraging the unique African-American experience.” She also is part of Hormel Professionals Representing Out United Individuals & Allies (HPROUD & Allies), the ERG whose mission is to promote a safe and equitable working environment for all employees, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
Giving Back To The Community
Before Porsche assumed the role of vice president of HAARG and while stationed at the Atlanta plant, she was in charge of the community service component of the ERG, a role she fills to this day. Projects in Atlanta included volunteering for Habitat for Humanity and helping out with Hosea Feed the Hungry and Homeless, among others.
One of the most successful community service efforts was the relationship Porsche developed more than five years ago with Hosea Feed the Hungry in Atlanta. She was looking for opportunities for HAARG to expand its community outreach. The organization and the legacy of its founder, civil rights leader/activist Hosea Williams, impressed Porsche with their compassion for the hungry and homeless in Atlanta. “Hosea was an impressive person,” she says. “He marched with Martin Luther King Jr.”
Not only did Porsche get HAARG involved with Hosea Feed the Hungry, she educated her plant manager about the group’s mission and work in the community. Though Porsche transferred from the Atlanta facility a number of years ago, the relationship with Hosea Feed the Hungry continues.
A subsequent assignment with Hormel Foods put Porsche in Lathrop, California, in 2013. One of the first things she did upon her arrival was to introduce the plant to HAARG and “empower them to do things they had never done before.” The facility is small, she explains. Workers didn’t realize they could participate with the ERGs. Porsche stepped up and organized a project to collect school supplies for in-need students and led the location’s Black History Month celebration, recognizing an African-American who was also a food industry pioneer.
Porsche accepted her current assignment in 2017 and is now the quality and process control manager at Don Miguel Foods, a joint venture of Hormel Foods and Herdez del Fuerte, located in Dallas. True to form, she is in the process of establishing HAARG there and working to learn as much as she can about the diverse cultures of her co-workers, at the same time sharing hers.
It’s more than what she does. It’s who she is.
“Porsche has been a dedicated teacher in educating people within the company about diversity and inclusion and the difference it can make in the workplace when all feel a part of the same team,” Tommy says.