Jun 14, 2012 • By

There is something we need to discuss

In the past 48 hours, I have had the opportunity to see our company express our values in very clear, very real, very human terms – and it has made me proud.

On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to testify before the U.S. Senate in support of the Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) which would extend protections in hiring, promotion, and advancement to members of the Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual and Transgender (GLBT) community.

Would any of us be fully engaged, productive and effective if we feared losing our job, being denied a promotion, being harassed or even bullied on the job?

Many qualified, hardworking Americans lack these basic protections under the law – simply because they are GLBT. That’s not right.

ENDA legislation would:

• Help businesses attract and retain talent;

• Help provide a safe, comfortable, productive work environment, free from discrimination or harassment, enabling employees to bring their full selves to work as engaged, productive employees; and,

• Help create a culture that fosters the creativity and innovation vital to business success.

I was honored to represent General Mills in testimony to support passage of such important legislation.

That was Tuesday.

On Wednesday, along with 400 Twin Cities GLBT professionals and friends, I had the opportunity to hear our CEO, Ken Powell, address “something we needed to discuss.”

As readers of this may or may not know, Minnesota voters will be asked to decide on a proposed constitutional amendment in November. If passed, this amendment would define marriage in our home state’s constitution as being between one man and one woman, effectively banning same-sex marriage in Minnesota. If defeated, Minnesota voters would send a strong message about our state’s view of the importance of inclusiveness and diversity.

Ken spoke only a few minutes – but his words spoke volumes.

He voiced our company’s opposition to the proposed marriage amendment, an initiative that makes our state less inclusive and reduces our company’s ability to attract and retain talent.

While, General Mills doesn’t normally take positions on ballot measures, this is a business issue that impacts our employees.

I am proud to see our company join the ranks of local and national employers speaking out for inclusion. We do not believe the proposed constitutional amendment is in the best interests of our employees or our state economy – and as a Minnesota-based company we oppose it.

We value diversity. We value inclusion. We always have … and we always will.

We’re proud of our workplace, and we’re proud to be a leader for diversity and inclusion in our community. For decades, General Mills has worked to create an inclusive culture that welcomes and values the contributions of all.

We believe a diverse, inclusive culture produces a stronger, more engaged workforce – and strengthens innovation. Inclusive communities are more successful economically as well. We believe it is important for Minnesota to be viewed as inclusive and welcoming as well.

Obviously, there are strongly held views on both sides. We acknowledge those views, including those on religious grounds. We respect and defend the right of others to disagree. But we truly value diversity and inclusion – and that makes our choice clear.

General Mills’ mission is Nourishing Lives. Not just some. But all.

Living that mission is part of who we are.