Q&A with Demetha Sanders

Name: Demetha Sanders

Title: Global Talent Management & Inclusion Leader, Cargill

What is your background and how did you find your way into the ag industry?

I spent my career in many different industries from financial services, logistics, spirits, and now ag. Ultimately, my role has always been to find and support the best talent for the organization by leveraging a person’s ability along with their passion. I think a diversity of experiences has helped the ag industry evolve and helped me see the broader opportunities the industry has to offer.

Why is diversity important to you and your company?

It’s all about perspectives. Our purpose is to nourish the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way. And to do that, our workforce needs to match the diversity of the communities we serve. The broader the diversity of perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds in our organization, the greater the solutions we can create. Our primary focus at Cargill is on inclusion, so we have a culture where all employees feel welcome, valued, and heard. Diversity and perspective come to life when you feel included.

What current diversity initiatives do you have planned or ongoing? 

We recently held a Global Day of Inclusion and leveraged a follow-the-sun approach, sparking 24 hours of continuous conversation to ensure all employees around the world had the opportunity to talk about what they needed to feel included. Locations used multiple forums to engage employees – virtual reality experiences, theatre groups, games, speakers…you name it. The impact was tremendous with nearly 150,000 Yammer messages and an energy level that was off the charts. This day kicked off a series of inclusion activations planned for the rest of the year around the organization (i.e Courageous Conversations during Black History Month, International Women’s Day events, etc.). We know you don’t solve for diversity with just one day or one initiative. It is an ongoing conversation and intentional acts to remove institutional barriers and drive inclusion that ultimately make diversity a reality.

In your opinion, what is the most exciting thing happening in the industry currently? 

The ways the industry is using data more intelligently and leveraging the diversity of communities to create more safe and sustainable solutions has changed how we look at agriculture. To think that we can now monitor eating habits of shrimp and look at weather patterns to better determine how much feed we use, or even allow consumers to trace the full life of a turkey before they make the purchase is fascinating. We are engaging with our customers differently and creating partnerships that ensure farmers can prosper, all while ensuring we can feed the world safely.

What is your vision for the future of agriculture?

My vision is for ag to be an industry known for opportunity, diversity, and for using insights to create sustainable nutrition and health solutions. As consumers become savvier, the population continues to grow, and information becomes more readily available, it will become increasingly important that we continue to look for ways to provide insights and create opportunity for sustainable nutrition and health solutions. Consumer expectations are evolving every day. Agriculture must bring the grandeur to the industry and provide more opportunities for diversity to succeed.

Is there anything else you would like people to know about your company or the agricultural industry?

Cargill is far more than an ag company. We are also a technology company. A people-first company. And a 155-year-old startup. There is so much innovation happening in this industry every day, and Cargill is leading the way. From facial recognition for cows, traceability for cocoa supply chains, to innovations that drive more sustainable seafood production, Cargill has the expertise to ensure our customers’ success. It’s far more than work for us. This is a place where you come to make meaningful impact.

About Together We Grow

Together We Grow is an agribusiness consortium with members that include major agricultural commodities companies, educational institutions, government agencies, and others committed to improving and expanding diversity in agribusiness. The consortium sponsors research and provides a platform to share best practices for building future workforce capacity; it will have its permanent home at the Spur Hydro building. For more information, visit twg.csusystem.edu.

About Spur: CSU System at the National Western Center

Coming in 2022: CSU System will open Spur, where innovative ideas and unforgettable experiences come to life at the National Western Center. Spur’s three buildings at the center of the landmark project in north Denver will ignite and fuel new ideas around water, food, and health and their impact on our lives and our world. Spur is where learning is open and accessible to all. Where researchers tackle the world’s most pressing problems around water, food, and health. Where art and culture challenge and surround you. Where rural and urban, local and global intersect. Learn more at csuspur.org.