The Produce Marketing Association Commits to Diversity and Inclusion with New Task Force
- by Melissa De Leon Chavez
NEWARK, DE - While any great journey must begin with a single step, we are in a time and place where we must actively listen and learn—or unlearn—before taking action so that when the ball does roll, it goes in the right direction.
Joe Don Zetzsche, Director of Floral and Blooms for H-E-B and Chair for the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) Board of Directors, sent a letter to the Board indicating that first step is being taken in the form of a new task force to advise PMA and Center for Growing Talent on its commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion in the produce and floral communities.
“As we seek to bring the produce and floral communities together to grow a healthier world, we must acknowledge the barriers our societal systems and unwritten beliefs have created and work to dismantle them,” Zetzsche wrote, according to an announcement. “Creating access and inclusion to people of all backgrounds and identities will make our industry stronger as we continue to welcome opportunities to increase our diversity of thought, ideas, and leadership.”
The first steps Zetzsche identified for the association to take are toward the dismantling of those barriers. To start, PMA and Center for Growing Talent will launch a volunteer diversity and inclusion task force to be led by Doug Bohr, Executive Director of CGT, and chaired by Zetzsche.
“As the world has been forced to confront the impacts and scale of the global pandemic, many other inequities have been exposed,” said Cathy Burns, Chief Executive Officer of PMA. “We will continue to listen, reflect, and learn, but as we promised, when we respond it will be with action. I’m proud of the steps we’re taking to make our industry more diverse and inclusive, and I am especially grateful for Joe Don’s leadership in these efforts.”
The association acknowledged the U.S. is facing civil unrest due to “systemic racism, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and other geopolitical challenges,” having released an earlier statement that the world—and PMA and CGT—need to do better to combat systemic racism. Upon the statement’s release, PMA’s Boards of Directors committed to increasing the importance and urgency of diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in its strategic plans with the goal of creating better opportunities for people of color to enter, advance, and do business not only at PMA and CGT, but within the industries they represent.
Since then, PMA said it has engaged in several conversations with experts about how unconscious bias impacts workplace culture and how businesses can create cultures of inclusion.
In the weeks since, PMA has:
- Hosted a conversation with CFO Dr. Yvonne Bull and Audra Bohannon, Senior Client Partner at Korn Ferry, which can be viewed here
- Dedicated a Virtual Town Hall featuring Johnny Taylor Jr., President and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), Rachel Cheeks-Givan, Global Director of Diversity and Inclusion for Pfizer, and James Harris, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at H-E-B
With much still to be done, PMA and CGT shared that these are long-term commitments for which more details will be forthcoming. AndNowUKnow will be sure to report when they do. Until then, we continue to serve and to work toward a bright, united future for this industry we love.