Perdue Farms takes part in Day of Understanding

Participants on a panel about diversity and inclusion organized by Perdue Farms as part of the company’s first Day of Understanding on Thursday, February 20th at the Perdue Learning University in downtown Salisbury, Maryland. (Todd Dudek Photo)

As part of Perdue Farms commitment to creating a more diverse and inclusive workforce, the company invited associates at all its locations in late February to participate in its first Day of Understanding.

Perdue joined 175 companies across the U.S. as part of a national effort organized by CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion.

“Day of Understanding was intended to provide a forum to have tough conversations, foster dialogue and increase understanding around diversity and inclusion,” said Kathryn Danko, Perdue’s vice president of Human Resources. “The day featured interactive activities that helped us embrace differences and increase understanding, so we collectively could gain a greater awareness of each other’s experiences and perspectives.”

“It’s important that we have events like Day of Understanding because we live in a diverse world and in order to stay relevant we need to reflect that world. Accepting and celebrating diversity is also the right thing to do,” said Perdue Farms CEO Randy Day.

“I learned don’t judge a book by its cover. Give someone a chance no matter what they look like, no matter what kind of a person you might think they are,” said panelist Obed Rivera, a mentor from the Perdue Farms Milford operation.

All Perdue locations participated, and with each location hosting different activities depending on their needs.

One common activity everyone participated in was The Shoe Project, which inspired the theme “Walk In Our Shoes.” The Shoe Project was founded to showcase the voices and stories of women immigrants and refugees all through a pair of shoes. Participants of different backgrounds connect using a universal and personal object — the shoe. The company expanded this idea to be inclusive of all associates and the types of shoes that could be worn by its diverse workforce. Associates were given small slips of paper, each featuring a different pair of shoes, to write on and share little known facts about their lives. No names were included, so associates were able to remain anonymous. These slips were posted throughout each location for all associates to read.

Day of Understanding was initiated in 2018 by CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion, which includes more than 900 CEOs in 85 different industries who recognize the need to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace. Randy Day is a CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion signator. Throughout February, U.S. companies hosted events at more than 10,000 locations for at least 386,000 employees to encourage frank conversation and bridge cultural divides.