Today, I finish up my thoughts on diversity on our boards, as I shared them with folks at the USDA session on board diversity Wednesday night.
Acceptance. Encouragement. Support. Inspiration.
These words may describe a perfect utopia of creativity and growth. And, I believe, they could describe our agricultural organizations.
I believe as agriculture we simply must get better at nurturing a culture of acceptance to improve our future. And we must discourage closed-mindedness and exclusion.
Many years ago, practically everyone had a farm in the family. Because of this, most people had a common language, based on common experiences that they shared.
Today, the face of farming and ranching differs quite a bit from the past. Particularly in western states, farm workers become farm owners. Women play an increasingly substantial role in agriculture due to increased opportunity—be that on-the-ground production or agricultural business. The face of our consumer is changing as well.
This means that for agriculture to stay relevant, we must foster acceptance. We must listen. We must encourage. We must support. We must inspire all types of people.
Particularly when thinking about the future of our Beef Board, we must do these things to ensure that we have future visionaries to lead our organization forward.
On our boards, and truly in agriculture in general, we could benefit becoming more open-minded to those who are different from us and have diverse viewpoints. We could embrace new ideas with added enthusiasm.
My experience says that lack of acceptance may be a challenge for our new members. They may find it difficult to break into already-formed groups of old friends and colleagues. If we actively try to reach out to others, and encourage them, we grow stronger as an organization.
“As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence actually liberates others.” ~Marianne Williamson