Nicole McAuley – Head of Communications and Public Affairs
The agriculture industry impacts us all – there’s nothing that we all have in common more than our need for and connection to food. And, as an industry, we know it’s incredibly important to shed light on the important stories, voices and challenges that people experience every day; so that we can collectively celebrate, advocate and support Canadian farmers, suppliers and industry stakeholders.
Canadians in the LGBTQA+ community – especially those living within rural regions and working within the agriculture and agri-foods industries – still face many unique challenges. This can include feelings of isolation and loneliness, identity crises heightened by the urban and rural divide, fear of rejection and inaccessibility to other folks within the LGBTQA+ community, micro-aggressions and unconscious biases, and overt discrimination.
While the progress made to date in Canada is worth recognizing, it doesn’t change the fact that it remains incredibly difficult for LGBTQA+ individuals living within rural environments to come out and live authentically within their own communities. In fact, according to a 2019 report from the standing committee on health in LGBTQA+ communities in Canada, on average, individuals in this community are four times more likely to experience suicidal thoughts and have poorer overall mental health compared to their heterosexual or cis-gendered counterparts.
At BASF, we believe in the health and safety of people above all else. We know that identity is intrinsically tied to farming, and we have a responsibility to do our part to create a safer and more welcoming space where everyone can thrive.
LGBTQA+ farmers exist. We see you. We hear you. We support you. And more importantly, we want to work alongside you.
Our organization wants to lead by example in the agriculture sector and we are committed to creating an inclusive culture, not only within our four walls, but also outside them – on the field with our reps, customers, retailers, and families who grow and support Canada’s food system. Diversity, equity and inclusion is a value that’s core to our business strategy and we recognize that our industry is better when diverse voices and lived experiences have a seat at the table.
This starts from the inside out and is made possible by fostering a positive workplace culture. Our people and employees are helping drive forward conversations around inclusivity and are a source of inspiration across all levels at BASF. Over the past decade, BASF’s employee resource groups – also referred to as ERGs – have grown in numbers and membership. Today, BASF has groups representing women, people with visible and invisible disabilities and LGBTQA+ and their allies, known as ALLchemie.
The first chapter of ALLchemie was started in 2012 at our Research Triangle Park offices in North Carolina, USA. In 2021, employees here in Canada created their own ALLchemie chapter – a major milestone for BASF in Canada.
We also formed the Diversity and Inclusion Council in Canada, which will help formalize and accelerate several key DE&I initiatives. The Council is a unique entity within BASF, made up of leaders across business units and functions who provide executive oversight on our approach to DE&I in Canada. This group provides executive sponsorship to inclusion champions from across the business, who work across six key workstreams that cover important facets of DE&I, from talent recruitment to building community connections. The Council also provides sponsorship and support for all ERGs in Canada.
Embedding diversity and inclusion across our business is an ongoing journey. There will always be opportunities to learn, create new initiatives and adapt our policies to be even stronger for our employees, customers, and communities.
Outside in the community, we also work closely with many fantastic organizations and non-profits who help enable and activate the next generation of farmers. 4H Canada is a longstanding partner of BASF who is doing fantastic work that helps empower youth to make a positive difference in the world.
Western Canada is diverse, and we need to amplify the voices and stories across the LGBTQA+ community. This community is nearly one million people strong, and according to Stats Canada accounts for 3.3 per cent of the population aged 15 and older.
These voices are unique and important to hear. That’s why in 2022, we launched the “Grow Love” campaign for Pride Month, to use our platform and scale to bring together industry partners and amplify their valuable perspective on DE&I within our agriculture community.
When we invest in a culture of belonging, we can inspire others and, together, we can solve some of our industry’s biggest challenges. Together we can build a bigger table – one that can seat everyone in the Canadian farming community.