You need not be a supporter of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) movement to appreciate what Sanderson Farms has done.

The third largest poultry company in the United States and the only Fortune 1000 company in Mississippi recently joined a court brief that urged a federal appeals court to not allow Mississippi House Bill 1523, which would protect people from discriminating against those in the LGBT community, to become law.

Mike Cockrell, chief financial officer for Sanderson Farms, graciously set some time aside from his busy schedule to tell me more about the brief, and how the company reached the conclusion that it should challenge the potential law. In casual conversation before the interview really began, Cockrell revealed that he wasn’t sure how many regular readers of WATTAgNet who go to the website for news and information concerning poultry and animal protein production would be interested in what they are doing on this front. I even wondered that a little myself, because the subject is a little out of the ordinary, but I was still confident it would resonate with readers.

Sanderson Farms’ involvement showed leadership

While I normally wait until later in the day to do this, on the day when the story about Sanderson Farms and the court brief was in a Poultry Update newsletter, I did a quick check of our reader analytics statistics as one of the first things I did when I got out of bed. The story had more clicks before 7 a.m. than many do all day.

I was glad to see this for Sanderson Farms’ sake. Here is a company that saw a proposed law it didn’t agree with and did something about it. As Cockrell said, Mississippi House Bill 1523 favored one group over another, which Sanderson Farms viewed as contrary to people’s Constitutional rights. And quite likely, it would prevent some of Sanderson Farms’ 13,000 employees from exercising their Constitutional rights.

Sanderson Farms could have played it safe and not got involved with a piece of controversial legislation. It didn’t. Instead, it stuck its neck out and stood up for what it believed was right, regardless of what people thought.

You can’t make a difference if you sit on the sidelines. Sanderson Farms clearly understands that. The company showed a good example of corporate citizenship through its effort to make sure its state laws were in its mind fair to not only its employees, but all of Mississippi’s citizens.