Posted on December 13, 2021

Tyson to Conduct Racial Audit After Outcry Over Workers

Saijel Kishan and Michael Hirtzer, Bloomberg, December 10, 2021

Tyson Foods Inc., one of the meatpackers that came under fire during the height of the pandemic for its treatment of a largely minority workforce, will commission a detailed study to determine whether its practices contribute to racial inequities.

An independent group will carry out the equity audit of the biggest U.S. meat company by sales, with Tyson aiming to publish its findings within a year, spokesperson Gary Mickelson said by telephone.

The American Baptist Home Mission Societies — an investor that filed a resolution calling on Tyson to perform such an audit — withdrew its proposal. The company had already intended to conduct a human-rights assessment, which would have included examining racial equality, before the investor proposal was filed, Mickelson said in an emailed statement to Bloomberg. It hadn’t publicized its initial plan.

The meatpacking industry is highly reliant on immigrants to staff slaughterhouses. That means it is quite diverse at the lowest-paying levels, while its C-suites and boardrooms remain overwhelmingly White. {snip}


In its resolution, the investor had asked Tyson to recommend steps to eliminate business activities that further systemic racism and requested that the study include input from affected workers. ABHMS said the meatpacker had a history of worsening racial inequities, citing a complaint filed with the Department of Agriculture that said Tyson’s failure to prevent Covid-19 outbreaks among its largely Black and Latinx workers amounted to racial discrimination.


Tyson, based in Springdale, Arkansas, this year hired its first chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer. The company said it takes pride in its workforce, stating 27% of employees are Hispanic or Latino, 25% Black and 11% Asian-American, speaking more than 50 different languages. Mickelson said in the statement that Tyson has a “strong focus and commitment to racial equity and human rights.”