As part of the Pride in Agriculture series, it’s important to include conversations about allyship and the work our industry organizations are doing to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in our communities. I’ve asked people from a few companies to share how they’re approaching this work as examples for others in the industry. Harvest Pride is a great example.
One of my goals with the Pride in Agriculture series is to encourage all organizations in our industry to consider and evaluate inclusion efforts to identify opportunities for improvement.
“Diversity is counting every person in the room. Inclusion is making every person in the room count.”
Today we’ll hear from Morgan Atchison, GPHR, PHR (she/her). Morgan is a team member at CHS, Inc. and will share her experiences with the organization’s Harvest Pride, an employee resource group and network of LGBTQ+ members and supporters, with the goal to educate and provide resources of inclusivity within CHS. You can connect with Morgan on LinkedIn.
How are you involved in the agricultural community?
I have often joked that I bleed dirt. I grew up in a small community in Northwest Iowa and come from a family of farmers. My father was always one to “think big” in growing the family farm and in 1989, was the largest exporter of live cattle to Japan. After his passing in 1999, my understanding and passion for the ag industry continued.
After graduating from the University of Northern Iowa and navigating some career moves, I eventually landed at CHS. With my background primarily in Human Resources and now working in our Compliance & Integrity Division, my personal and professional passions were able to come together.
CHS is the largest cooperative in North America, diversified in energy, agronomy, grains, and foods, and a Fortune 100 company. I like to say that we are the one-stop-shop for nearly anything that a farmer would need to run their business.
Why are you proud to be part of the agriculture community?
The agriculture community thrives in overcoming obstacles and understands challenges. Those challenges, may it be economical, social, or political (and let us not forget meteorological) creates some of the most resilient people in this community.
I feel I thrive in surrounding myself with those who understand the importance of a good challenge and the ability to take it on, especially when in good company with fellow colleagues and leaders. This message rings true of the LGBTQ+ community as they too have experienced endless obstacles and have always been highly motivating to me as an ally, to work with.
How have you felt or seen support for LGBTQ+ people in agriculture and rural communities?
At CHS, I am on the leadership team for our LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group (ERG), Harvest Pride. As a passionate ally, I knew from the beginning that this was an ERG that I wanted to be a part of. With the support of senior leadership, we were created in 2020 and our strategic statement is to “Promote a safe, connected, and empowered LGBTQA+ community across CHS.”
Having a company ERG is an impactful way to help establish and maintain an engaged workforce. Our three core initiatives are
- Create a safe environment,
- Build a community, and
- Educate and inform.
Events that we have hosted or messages that have been cascaded have enabled us to feel more connected to our roughly 10,000 employees, creating a welcoming space for all.
We are very proud to share that this year CHS is one of the sponsors for Twin Cities Pride. This year Twin Cities Pride is celebrating its 50th anniversary and we look forward to being part of it!
How do you consider yourself an ally?
Whether it be my activism through Harvest Pride or professionally due to my background in Human Resources and Compliance, I consider myself an ally as I am passionate about supporting others, speaking up, and being a bystander.
Considering I grew up in a rural community, but now call Minneapolis home, I can feel the occasional pull between different and at times, competing, mindsets. Then again, I have always felt a person’s silence says a lot more about who they are as a person.
My goal is to be a voice, especially if it overlaps with the space of ethics, policies, or laws, where I can continue to be a strong advocate for the LGBTQ+ community.
What can people in the larger agriculture community do to be strong allies of LGBTQ+?
Growing up, my father treated everyone from the hired help on our farm to the international executives he met all the same….with respect. No matter their backgrounds or where they came from, they all were welcome to have a seat at our dinner table.
Sometimes that was the best place to start. The most memorable conversations took place over a meal or cup of coffee and to be an ally is just that – create a seat for someone and open up that channel of communication. Meet them where they are and simply listen.
The Pride in Agriculture series highlights voices from LGBTQ+ people and allies in agriculture to feature the diversity and leadership within our industry who work to make our community a better place for everyone. To have your LGBTQ+ or Ally story featured, contact Ryan Goodman here.
Consider making a contribution this month to the Cultivating Change Foundation, whose mission is to value and elevate LGBTQ+ agriculturists through advocacy, education, and community.