Sanderson Farms: a culture of giving back
The company exemplifies a movement within American companies to meet evolving expectations of employees and customers
There is a sea change occurring within corporate America as companies seek to meet the evolving expectations of employees and customers. For example, Millennials not only want to know an organization's mission, but they demand that the organization demonstrate a drive to meet that mission. This generation has also shown a willingness to abandon support for a company whose mission doesn't align with their own values. By placing the Golden Rule at the heart of business, many companies now find that the more they give, indeed, the more they receive.
According to Giving USA, companies increased charitable contributions last year by nearly 12%. Data from Giving In Numbers shows that companies most deeply invested in society are also the ones that saw the most robust financial performance. Evidence is growing that purpose-driven companies – those with concerns beyond profits – are better positioned for growth.
In addition to impacting growth, a willingness to improve the lives of others also impacts trust. Today's customers and employees have greater expectations of companies, as each demand that their suppliers and employers demonstrate a commitment to society. According to the 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer, 50% of consumers cite a company's failure to contribute to the greater good as their reason for distrust.
Research also shows that Millennials want to work for companies offering community engagement opportunities. An America's Charities article, Snapshot 2015: The New Corporate DNA – Where Employee Engagement and Social Impact Converge, states, "As companies have begun to recognize that giving back is not an optional perk for employees but an expected cornerstone of every company's DNA, employers are substantially integrating this ideology into their corporate goals and messaging."
If corporate responsibility is to be woven into the fabric of a company, it has to stem from executive leadership. At Sanderson Farms, Inc., the nation's third largest poultry producer, Chairman and CEO, Joe F. Sanderson, Jr., is the perfect example of that type of leadership. Operating with the same conviction as his father before him, Sanderson believes that a company will only be as successful as the communities in which it operates. He guides his Fortune 1000 organization with the knowledge that a true sense of corporate responsibility is as important as achieving growth, producing the highest quality products, and providing unparalleled customer service.
"Our success is about much more than just becoming a bigger company and corporate profits," said Sanderson. "We believe success is best measured by meeting our responsibility to our people, our process and our products, as well as to our customers and shareholders."
One of the ways Sanderson Farms meets this responsibility is through charitable giving. In fiscal year 2015, the organization donated over $1.1 million to charitable organizations, including more than $370,000 through the United Way in the communities in which it operates.
"If you can imagine a company moving to a community and improving the quality of life for thousands of individuals and families, that's what Sanderson Farms did for Lenoir County [North Carolina]," said June Cummings, Executive Director, Lenoir/Greene United Way. "Not only their corporate gift, but their employee gifts to United Way have made a tremendous difference."
Sanderson Farms' continued success is shaped by its unwavering commitment to operational excellence, as well as its values that support environmental and social responsibility. Named among America's 100 Most Trustworthy Companies by Forbes Magazine, the company is committed to protecting the environment and one another.
Since 2012, Sanderson Farms has donated nearly 1,000,000 pounds of poultry to charitable organizations. Additionally, the Sanderson Farms Championship, as part of the PGA TOUR, has generated over $2.7 million in donations to Friends of Children's Hospital, a fundraising organization supporting Mississippi's only children's hospital.
Since 1993, Sanderson Farms has built more poultry complexes than any other company in the nation. With 11 processing facilities, nine hatcheries and eight feed mills spanning five states in 16 different communities, the company strives to grow responsibly by focusing on its commitment to the communities in which it operates.
"Sanderson Farms has done everything they said they would do and more," said Bill Ellis, Director of Parks & Recreation for Kinston, N. C. "Before they even opened their doors, they donated 40,000 cubic yards of dirt for a soccer complex. They come in and clean up along the riverbank. From the plant manager down to the line employee, they really want to make the community a better place."