Equitable Food Initiative Spotlights Importance of Being Family-Friendly; LeAnne Ruzzamenti Details
WASHINGTON, DC - If there’s anything we love to see, it’s produce purveyors advancing their operational strategies in support of their workforce. I recently spoke with Equitable Food Initiative’s (EFI) LeAnne Ruzzamenti to explore the ways in which EFI-certified businesses are becoming more family-friendly to the benefit of both the companies and their employees.
“By prioritizing the well-being of their employees, EFI-certified growers have cultivated an environment that not only fosters productivity but also sparks motivation and loyalty among their workforces,” shares LeAnne, EFI's Director of Marketing and Communications. “Offering competitive wages, providing access to essential resources, and supporting a healthy work-life balance have become powerful incentives for workers to join and remain committed to the agricultural sector.”
In support of their employees, many EFI-certified produce businesses have implemented critical changes to make their operations more welcoming and supportive of workers with families. This includes developing strategies to offer privacy and refrigeration for nursing mothers in the fields, hosting school supply drives, and more.
One prime example of this is Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce and GoodFarms, whose workers receive school supplies for their children and grandchildren every year during the back-to-school season. Not only does this effort save the companies’ employees time and money, but it also fills their children with excitement to start each school year fully equipped.
“Most EFI-certified companies boast high retention rates,” LeAnne tells me. “EFI-certified companies that have implemented family-friendly policies have reported higher rates of women in the workforce and more women returning to work after having a baby.”
As LeAnne shares, a great way to manage labor issues is to become an employer of choice. EFI-certified companies understand that maintaining current skilled workers within the existing organization and having those same workers be champions to help recruit other like-minded workers makes the labor market less challenging.
This is critical, especially as farmworkers have translatable skills that can be utilized in construction and manufacturing, making retaining current ag workers a bigger priority for produce companies.
“One of the best ways companies can begin to implement any kind of workforce development program is by implementing worker voice,” LeAnne continues. “Implementing policy for the sake of implementing policy is never successful. A collaborative approach that encourages open and transparent communication allows workers to share their needs and allows management to understand those needs and help create programs that address them. Each group, both workers and management, feels heard and respected in the process.”
For example, EFI-certified member company Misionero began paying all workers for holidays after it was brought up by the company’s EFI Leadership Team. Several other creative initiatives have been implemented to further support the workers of EFI-certified companies, elevating themselves as an employer of choice.
Stay tuned as we continue to cover the industry advancements fueled by EFI and its impactful program.