Meet Leslie Drish, Diversity & Inclusion Manager for Tyson Foods

“In order to be inclusive one must recognize that not everyone has the same perspective. You have to be open to learning a different approach or idea.” -- Leslie Drish

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Leslie Drish is currently the Diversity and Inclusion Manager at Tyson Foods. Leslie is originally from the south side of Chicago and began her career teaching high school. She eventually went to work for several non-profits, including Shedd Aquarium, the Chicago Urban League and the YMCA of the USA. At the YMCA, she transitioned from doing work that focused on education to diversity and inclusion work.

Leslie supports all of Tyson’s inclusion efforts, which include: benchmarking diversity efforts, supporting all of their Business Resource Groups, developing and implementing inclusion and diversity education (including global awareness), supporting all of their internal and external diversity communication efforts and working with business units to ensure they are developing the most inclusive practices and procedures.

Being in a higher position in a large company can be challenging sometimes, and one of Leslie’s particular challenges is, with 122,000 employees, it can be hard to make sure all of the efforts are cascaded across the company. Yet, Tyson continues to create a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment. Leslie credits, “Through education and communication. We’re celebrating all of the progress that we’ve made in the last few years and including our team members in helping us tell our story.”

Leslie talks about the Business Resource Groups and their individual efforts to raise inclusion in various spectrums. Tyson has six resource groups: Disability and Accessibility Awareness, Leaders of Tomorrow, Multicultural, Pride Network, Veteran’s, and Women’s. As Tyson is a company of many acquisitions and growth, by 2014 there were 10 independently-operating BRGs. Each group developed its own mission, goals, and activities and was only geared toward their specific location. To create continuity with the groups across the enterprise, Tyson went on a listening tour with the individual groups to determine what their purpose was and how they were structured. After gathering information from all the groups, there were key similarities outlined across all the groups. From there, Tyson brought together the leadership from each group to develop a framework that each could work within. The purpose of each group is to create a business impact, increase team member engagement, cultural awareness, and inclusion, aid in the professional development of team members, increase team member networks and circle of influence, a partner in community efforts.

Leslie also informed us of the actions Tyson is taking toward diversity and inclusion. We’re in the process of developing inclusion and diversity education for our plant supervisors. The education includes our definitions of inclusion and diversity and what that looks like in our company, how to respond to comments that aren’t inclusive, and unconscious bias education. We’ve piloted the education in one of our plants, and we’re hoping to bring it to more,” she said.

Leslie explains that she loves working with people and understanding their backgrounds and perspectives. She feels she has the opportunity to work with a completely creative, caring and committed team members, and learns something from them every day. 

Johnny Beckworth