More than 100 Perdue Farms leaders and managers gathered for the company’s first Diversity and Inclusion Forum, which included a keynote address by Marley Dias, the 13-year-old teen activist whose #1000BlackGirlBooks social media campaign went viral in 2015.

Dias came to the attention of Perdue Farms CEO Randy Day when she addressed a meeting of CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion, of which Day is a member. Recalling that event, Day said, “Here was this young woman, schooling a room full of CEOs on the very topic we came together to discuss. I knew I had to bring her to Perdue.”

“Inclusion happens when we decide it matters,” Dias told Perdue associates. “If you don’t purposefully try to be inclusionary, exclusion will be the outcome.”

As CEO, Randy Day is championing diversity and inclusion at Perdue Farms, a company in a field not recognized for leadership in that area.

“When I attend industry events, I see a lot of executives who look like me,” said Day. “But when I look at our production facilities, I see diversity. I see diversity in our consumers, our customers and our communities. To stay relevant, to understand how to be relevant, we’ve got to embrace diversity throughout our organization.”

The day also included interactive Unconscious Bias Training, to help the company’s leaders and managers recognize those biases in themselves and in the workplace.

“As a company, we can do all the right things to increase diversity and support inclusion, but if we – each of us – don’t change inside, we won’t reach our goals,” said Kelly Fladger, Perdue’s Vice President of Human Resources Services and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer.

“This tells me that Perdue is taking unconscious bias and diversity seriously,” Sonya Whited, Director of Process, Packaging and Commercialization. “It is a very firm belief that we want to have the best talent. Also, when you have diversity, and you’re genuine in your diversity, I also believe it attracts consumers. People know if you’re genuine or not.”