Recognized as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2016)
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 23, 2016)
Here are some of the reasons why Monsanto Canada Inc. was selected as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2016):
- Monsanto Canada established a diversity sub-committee of its Canadian leadership team in 2013 and recently created an Employee Diversity and Inclusion Council, responsible for providing advice and recommendations on related initiatives, finding new ways to address issues that may be impacting diversity, and initiating actions to contribute to greater diversity and inclusion
- One of Monsanto Canada's primary goals is to recruit, develop and retain female employees -- the company provides developmental assignments and projects to high potential female employees, measures the effectiveness of related initiatives and reviews progress on a quarterly basis
- Monsanto Canada maintains a Women in Breeding Network, which focuses on women in science careers, and offers employees opportunities to participate in American chapters of employee resource groups, such as the Young Professionals Network, Access Network, for employees with disabilities, and Encompass, for LGBT employees
Diversity seeds results and dividends at Monsanto
Cathy Pickard could hardly be clearer when she discusses the benefits of diversity and inclusion in the workplace at Winnipeg-based Monsanto Canada.
"A diverse workforce leads to more innovative products, sales and solutions," says Pickard, Director of Human Resources. "It's the key to our success and it is embedded in everything we do."
Monsanto Canada is a division of the multinational agricultural company that sells seeds for canola, corn, soybean, wheat, cotton and vegetable crops as well as the widely-used Roundup brand of weed control products. The company spends nearly $1.4 billion annually on research and development to improve yields and nutrition while reducing agriculture's environmental impact.
In keeping with Monsanto's global commitments, the Canadian leadership team created a sub-committee in 2013 to focus on workplace diversity and inclusion. They later added an Employee Diversity and Inclusion Council, which provides recommendations to the leadership team on ways to enhance diversity and inclusiveness.
"Our first priority is to focus on women in leadership roles," say Larisa Morier, a Technology Development Data Manager, who co-chairs the employee council. "We've been looking at how we can encourage and support women to take on leadership roles. We've held one forum, and have another planned to address questions about work-life balance and career development."
Monsanto provides high potential women with development projects and assignments, as well as mentoring opportunities. The company has also created an affinity network for women in
their plant breeding division to promote careers in science for female employees.
Morier has benefitted from such opportunities. She managed a team of 10 to 15 employees at the Canola Trait Integration Site in Monsanto Canada's research and development program
before moving to the commercial division. Currently, she analyzes data emerging from the company's field agronomy research and helps produce marketing and production information that sales representatives use when meeting farmers and retailers.
"I've had the opportunity to perform in a number of different roles at Monsanto," says Morier. "I've been supported in my career decisions and have had the opportunity to mentor others and be mentored."
Women represent nearly half the company's Canadian workforce and Morier says more women are moving into managerial roles, thanks in part to development opportunities and a work environment that allows flexible working hours.
"We know from research and focus groups that women face some unique challenges in terms of advancement so we are trying to figure out where there may be barriers at different levels within the organization," says Morier. "We have some women in senior leadership positions, but we would like to see more. We're exploring what additional programs or support may be
required to attract and promote women."
Morier adds that while a focus on women is a priority, the council's long-term objectives are to continue this work across all areas of diversity and inclusion. "As we roll out new initiatives, we are also thinking about how we can have a positive impact on the whole organization and broaden our diversity and inclusion goals," says Morier.
Monsanto recruits at colleges and universities across Canada and while it focuses on post-secondary institutions with agriculture or business programs it also advertises openings through online job sites and explores non-traditional backgrounds.
"We're open to all the diverse talent that is out there," says Pickard. "We don't go out and market to specific groups and we don't have specific quotas. Gender, age or ethnicity is irrelevant. We're searching for the brightest talent regardless of background or experience."
Pickard adds that diverse perspectives - especially when hiring or promoting - lead to better corporate decision-making and long-term performance. "It is imperative to business success
to fully leverage your talent pipeline," says Pickard. "If you're not focused on women and not thinking about how to develop and promote them, then you're not leveraging half your workforce and that's not good for business."