GFO and BFO talk diversity and inclusion

GFO and BFO talk diversity and inclusion
Jan 22, 2021

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The organizations have released statements on diversity, equity and inclusion in ag

By Jackie Clark
Staff Writer
Farms.com

Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO) is the latest industry group in the province to make a public statement about their intention to focus on diversity and inclusiveness moving forward. The organization commended Beef Farmers of Ontario (BFO) on their leadership on this issue in a thread of tweets on Jan. 19.

“Diverse life experiences, backgrounds and ideas at the table, make organizations stronger and finding ways to make the inclusion of everyone systemic will benefit every organization regardless of industry,” GFO said in the thread.

These efforts are finding renewed focus, but have been in the works for several years, Markus Haerle, chair of GFO, told Farms.com.

“A couple of years ago we started to make sure as an organization that we started to get more young people, more (women) involved in the organization,” he explained. “Agriculture is actually an environment that has huge opportunities for growth” in diversity.  

The organization wanted to ensure there was an openness to people of all identities, however it was not previously a point in the strategic plan, he added.

When it came time to review the strategic plan in the summer, “everybody around the table started to talk about (diversity and inclusiveness) being a very important part of our mandate nowadays too, because we want to make sure that the organization has a good foundation of leadership and structure that drives the industry forward,” Haerle said.

GFO wants to encourage openness to diversity in both the organization’s leadership and staff, as well as it’s membership.

 “We want to make sure that through our engagement with the membership, with the industry stakeholders, we want to promote our values based on being open, being able to work with everybody that’s out there, it doesn’t matter race, gender, orientation … that’s something that should not be a stumbling block moving forward,” he explained.

GFO aims “to create a dialogue in a way that nobody should be afraid of engaging into the discussions,” he added.

BFO came forward with a diversity, equity and inclusion statement on Jan. 7.

“Beef Farmers of Ontario (BFO) joins with those in our community who are calling for an end to systemic racism, as well as discrimination and prejudice based on sexual orientation, gender, religion, and ability (visible and invisible), and linguistic discrimination,” said the statement.

The organization also stated commitments on their website, including a promise to continuous learning and growing in the area of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

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