As part of Tyson Foods’ focus on sustainable food production at scale, the company has committed to expanded efforts to create a better workplace at its production facilities.
“We believe sustainability is about continuous improvement and solutions that last, and this includes a healthier workplace,” says Noel White, chief operations officer of the Springdale, Ark., company. “We’ve always been committed to supporting our employees and have sound workplace practices in place, but also want to do better. That’s why we’re taking steps that include expanding training, improving workplace safety and compensation, increasing transparency and helping workers with life skills.”
By investing in sustainability, Tyson Foods expects to create a beneficial cycle of contributing to the future, while paying for itself in the present. Investments in sustainability are expected to fund themselves through reduced waste and costs.
Tyson Foods employs 114,000 team members, including more than 95,000 who work in the U.S. production facilities, including chicken, beef, pork and prepared foods operations.
Highlights of Tyson Foods’ expanded workplace efforts include:
- A continuing commitment to a goal of zero worker injuries and illnesses—striving to achieve a 15% year-over-year reduction in worker injuries and illnesses.
- A commitment to a goal of zero turnover—striving for a 10% year-over-year improvement company-wide in team member retention.
- Plans to hire 25 or more poultry plant trainers, adding to the more than 260 trainers and 30 training coordinators.
- Expansion of the We Care safety communications program to all poultry plants.
- Continued participation of hourly workers in plant safety councils.
- A pilot compensation program at two poultry plants that involves significantly increasing base wages and shortening the time it takes new workers to move to higher wage rates.
- Expansion of Upward Academy, a life skills program for workers.
- Publicly sharing the results of third-party social compliance audits of Tyson plants.
Tyson Foods’ purpose is to raise the world’s expectations for how much good food can do. As part of that purpose and Tyson Foods’ new approach to sustainability, the company is collaborating with Oxfam America, Boston, Mass., and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), Washington, D.C.
“Tyson Foods’ commitment to worker safety and worker rights should not just be applauded – it should serve as a model for the rest of the industry,” says Marc Perrone, UFCW international president. “Through our ongoing partnership with Tyson Foods, we have already made valuable progress. We look forward to these new and expanded initiatives and to continuing to work together to provide a better, safer workplace for the hard-working men and women at Tyson Foods.”
Tyson Foods has also been working with the Cisneros Center for New Americans, San Antonio, Texas, on a program called Upward Academy, which was developed two years ago to help immigrant workers with life skills through such things as English as a Second Language and General Educational Development (GED) classes.
“We appreciate the leadership Tyson Foods has shown by investing in its workforce through programs like this,” says Nicolas Perilla, president of the Cisneros Center. “It’s fundamentally good for business and the community by helping new Americans be successful and feel at home. More companies should replicate this program.”
“We will use our reach, capabilities and resources to drive positive change,” adds Tom Hayes, chief executive officer of Tyson. “Trade-offs will be minimized, as we solve for healthier food, healthier animals, a healthier environment and a healthier workplace. All of these areas must advance together if we are to create a more sustainable system.”