It can be uncomfortable to have “real talk” about controversial topics, especially in a work setting. But in the era of social media, and as the lines between personal and professional are increasingly blurred, it’s more important than ever to address and explore hard topics—and not just outside office walls.
Our Courageous Conversation series, launched in January 2016, gives employees a safe and supportive place to have candid discussions about important issues. Conversation starts with an external keynote speaker followed by an open forum discussion facilitated by trained employee volunteers. For example, more than 350 people attended a conversation on the #MeToo movement in winter 2018, kicked off by our President of North American Retail and Chief Human Resources Officer. The conversation tackled topics ranging from the impact of the #MeToo movement across American society, as well as steps we can each take to ensure our workplace is an environment free from harassment. The conversation was then rolled out across field locations and a national sales meeting. We’ve also tackled other topics ranging from Colin Kaepernick’s Take a Knee protest to mental health to immigration. We continue to draw more interest and are expanding offerings across in-person field locations (manufacturing plants, sales business centers) as well as virtual options.
Hundreds of employees come together to have open and honest dialogue around important issues. Attendees have reported that they’ve come away with increased commitment to engaging different perspectives, increased levels of understanding and empathy across different communities and increased understanding of company resources.
For General Mills, success means deeply understanding the lives of our increasingly diverse consumers – something that’s only possible with the insight born from a workforce of many perspectives, ideas and backgrounds. We’re proud to make food people love, and inclusion across our workforce, culture, consumers and broader society ensures we’re able to continue doing just that.