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Cargill targets male-only panels

World’s largest grains and agricultural trader will no longer take part in gender-biased events as part of its global diversity policy

Ocean Transportation business will consider including diversity criteria for event sponsorship

CARGILL, the global grains and agricultural trader, has pledged to ban its executives from speaking at male-only panels.

An internal document — the Inclusive and Diverse Speaker Guidelines — which has been seen by Lloyd’s List, commits the US’ largest privately-owned company to assemble panels and speaker line-ups that are gender diverse.

Cargill’s 160,000 employees will no longer participate as a keynote speaker, panellist or moderator if the speaker line-up or panel lacks gender diversity.

The company, which is one of the world’s biggest charterers of dry bulk vessels, has turned down participation in panels both at corporate level and in its Ocean Transportation division since the policy was launched last October.

Jan Dieleman, head of Ocean Transportation, said the policy was part of a company-wide push to create inclusive environments where diversity is embraced.

“It is important for us to give a strong signal to start changing,’’ he said. “We want people to challenge themselves to really do things differently.”

Cargill spokesman Joe Cook said the company had reviewed all the major event organisers in the maritime sector and verbally communicated its new speaker policy.

A letter formally outlining the policy and encouraging event organisers to be more inclusive and diverse will be sent to organiser by the end of February.

Cargill will work with event organisers to achieve gender parity by putting forward diverse talent.

“People are genuinely struggling to come up with diverse panels because they’ve always been relying on the same group of talent,” said Mr Dieleman, who sits on the advisory board of the Global Maritime Forum.

“You need to think differently. You need to do things differently. That’s why we’re having the conversation.”

Mr Cook said he would consider including diversity as part of the criteria when looking at undertaking event sponsorship.

At a corporate level, Cargill has signed up to Paradigm4Parity, a coalition of businesses committed to addressing the corporate leadership gender gap.

It has committed to achieving 50-50 gender parity at senior leadership level by 2030.

Cargill global inclusion and talent leader Demetha Sanders acknowledged 50% parity was a big goal, “but it’s an important goal and we are committed to it”.

Cargill Ocean Transportation, which is a member of the Women's International Shipping & Trading Association, is targeting a 10% increase in female representation globally by 2020 based on 2015 numbers.

In 2017 it saw a drop in female representation and it is still compiling numbers for 2018. Mr Dieleman said the business “still has more to do on that”.

Jan Dieleman calls for tough penalties for sulphur cheats. Read our interview here.

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