Tyson Foods improving workplace as part of its sustainability strategy

Tyson Foods is bringing in more measures to improve worker safety and worker rights as part of its new approach to sustainability announced earlier this year (see March issue of The Food Sustainability Report).

The company – one of the world’s largest meat processors – has made a commitment to create a better workplace at its U.S. production facilities impacting 95,000 workers out of Tyson’s 114,000 workforce. This will include chicken, beef, pork and prepared food operations. The company says it plans for its investments in sustainability to fund themselves through reducing waste and costs.

Noel White, chief operations officer at Tyson Foods, said: “We’ve always been committed to supporting our employees and have sound workplace practices in place, but also want to do better. That’s why we’re taking steps that include expanding training, improving workplace safety and compensation, increasing transparency and helping workers with life skills.”

Examples of commitments include:

  • Working towards the company goal for zero worker injuries and illnesses through a 15% reduction year-over-year;
  • Striving for a 10% year-over-year improvement in company-wide retention working towards a goal of zero staff turnover;
  • Hiring 25 more poultry plant trainers;
  • Expansion of its poultry plant safety communications programme;
  • Enabling hourly workers to continue participating in plant safety councils;
  • Piloting a compensation scheme at poultry plants to shorten times for workers being able to move on to higher wages;
  • Publicly sharing the results of third-party social compliance audits at Tyson plants which the company first initiated in 2015.

The Upward Academy: Tyson Foods is also partnering with the non-profit Cisneros Center for New Americans to develop further its Upward Academy. Launched two years ago the Upward Academy is designed to help immigrant workers with life skills such as English as a second language and general educational development. Nicolas Perilla of the Cisneros Center said: “It is fundamentally good for business and the community by helping new Americans be successful and feel at home. More companies should replicate [the Upward Academy].”