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BASF is Turning Conversations into Action to Foster a Chemistry of Inclusion

*Editor’s Note: The following NC Chamber Executive Memo from Courtney J. White, head of human resources at BASF Agricultural Solutions, North America, was originally sent on Friday, June 19th (Juneteenth) to a select audience of executives within NC Chamber member companies. We generally reserve distribution of this newsletter to this select audience. Given the importance of this message, however, we wanted to share this edition of Executive Memo with a larger audience. 

Dear Reader,

Diversity is at the forefront of everything we do here at BASF. We know our inclusive workplaces drive the fusion of ideas which fuels our innovation. More importantly, though, we know promoting diversity and inclusion is the right thing to do because every person, everywhere, deserves to be included and treated with respect.

For that reason, we were honored last week to participate as presenting sponsor for the NC Chamber’s Virtual Workplace Diversity & Inclusion Conference. As our nation holds a conversation focused on greater equity for all, it was encouraging to see some honest examinations of privilege and inclusion that are stirring that larger discussion. I came away with a feeling that, alongside our focus on others, we must also remember to focus on a deeper understanding of ourselves.

I left also with this question in mind: what’s next?

We cannot be satisfied to consider these issues only when publicized cases of systemic racism appear on our screens or in our headlines. The real danger of systemic discrimination is that it’s insidious – it hides in plain sight – and if we aren’t on guard against it, it grows. “Inclusion is a verb,” I heard spoken at last week’s conference. With every new day, we must always be on the lookout for new ways to turn talk into action – the kind of action that can move beyond change to real transformation.

At BASF, we’re doing our part to do just that.

Accountability Comes from the Top

It’s a guiding principle within BASF to always support an environment of trust, openness, and respect across our workplaces. We believe inclusion must be owned by everyone and we practice a zero-tolerance policy for all forms of discrimination and harassment. Leadership is expected of every BASF employee, and we manage our teams to the expectation that they model these values in all that they do.

Our diversity and inclusion strategy is championed through BASF’s Diversity + Inclusion Council. Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) augment the council’s efforts, extending its impacts across the company and into our communities through numerous outreach and awareness campaigns. These ERGs include BASF’s African American Employee Group, Asian Business Community, ALLchemie LGBTQ+ support group, Latin American Employee Group, Parents@BASF, Women in Business, and our Awareness of Visible and Invisible Disabilities Group, among others.

We’re also focused on making sure our company’s future leaders grow into their roles with these values already instilled. Our Diverse Leaders Program is targeted toward students of diverse backgrounds completing their MBA degrees and seeking careers in General Management; the program aims to accelerate these promising individuals into our senior leadership talent pipeline. We also set goals that 50 percent of the candidates interviewed for new roles are diverse employees and that 50 percent of the people doing the interviewing also come from diverse backgrounds.

Employees across BASF who want targeted mentorship can identify areas of desired development and match with a mentor, ensuring these core values extend across generations. Our Grow & Tell program offers leader-led sessions resembling “Ted Talks” that allow leaders to make meaningful impacts with engaged employee audiences. Chemistry of Inclusion – an employee-led program to create awareness, ambassadorship, and dialogue around workplace inclusion – further amplifies these values. And our regular listening tours, engagement surveys, and dedicated annual Diversity & Inclusion Days ensure every single BASF employee is aware of our commitment to these principles.

These are just some of the strategies in place to support inclusion within BASF. You can learn more about our commitment to diversity and inclusion by clicking here or by following our #belongatBASF hashtag on social media.

Belong to Something Bigger

At BASF, our motto is, “We create chemistry.” But what is chemistry if not diversity in action? It’s the process of similar and unique factors coming together with the intent to produce something better – something vital. Our labs, production facilities, and offices would not be the amazing places they are if we just had a handful of substances to work with.

We also have another saying at BASF, one specifically focused on our Diversity + Inclusion efforts: “Belong to something bigger.” The truth is, all of us – no matter what issues we may think divide us – belong to the same “something bigger.” It’s up to each of us to make sure it’s a place we can all feel included.

I’m proud of the part we at BASF are playing to drive diversity forward across our company and our communities. I know many of you have helped implement similar programs in your own companies. As leaders, you might say we have the power to influence the people we lead – but as the Peter Parker principle states, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

On this Juneteenth, I leave you with this question: are you making the most of your responsibility to turn courageous talk into the kind of action that drives real transformation in your company and your communities?

Sincerely,

Courtney J. White
Head, Human Resources
BASF Agricultural Solutions, North America