We foster a healthy and inclusive society. We strive for equitable practices that support our employees, industry and communities.
Support for under-represented groups in agriculture: FCC disbursed $5.4 billion in lending to women entrepreneurs and young farmers and entrepreneurs and continued our commitment to Indigenous truth and reconciliation by completing the first phase toward achieving a gold certification in the Progressive Aboriginal Relations (PAR) program.
Healthy and engaging workplace: FCC creates an environment where employees can grow and thrive by strengthening our culture, developing caring and capable leaders, supporting learning and development, and being responsive to feedback.
Building a diverse workforce: 23% of new hires were self-declared members of employment equity groups.
Supporting diversity, equity and inclusion
Our goal is to help the industry and our customers achieve their full potential – and that includes initiatives to support under-represented groups, specifically Indigenous communities and Peoples, women entrepreneurs, and young farmers. Barriers to entry exist, such as farmland prices, start-up costs, access to capital or credit, regulatory requirements and agriculture knowledge.
This year, FCC completed Phase 1 of the three-year ‘committed’ phase of the Progressive Aboriginal Relations (PAR) certification process (started in late 2020), administered by the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB).
It’s designed to help companies advance their ability to support social and economic inclusion of Indigenous Peoples. Focusing on the key drivers of leadership actions, employment, business development and community relationships, we’ll continue to advance in the organization’s journey toward truth & reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples in Canada. We anticipate completing Phase 2 of the program next year.
In an FCC survey conducted on Indigenous Agriculture in Canada, we found that 85% of Indigenous communities are looking at how to get into or expand their agricultural efforts. This year, we continued to review our practices to help meet these needs and challenges. For example, we expanded our credit policies and processes for this segment, enabling greater access to capital and for the industry to become more inclusive. We’ve also built in-house expertise by creating roles dedicated to Indigenous lending and supporting Indigenous communities and entrepreneurs entering the agriculture sector.
It’s important that we can measure our financial impact to Indigenous communities and Peoples. This year, we began gathering Indigenous Declaration information from new and existing customers. This will help us make informed decisions on addressing barriers experienced by Indigenous businesses and communities within the agricultural sector.
FCC remains committed to increasing the proportion of women-owned and led businesses in Canada and helping women in agriculture and agri-food thrive. In 2019, through the FCC Women Entrepreneur Program, we committed $500 million over three years to support women with increased access to capital. The program was very successful again this year. Since the program’s launch, FCC has approved 2,632 Women Entrepreneur Loans totalling over $1.9 billion.
We continue to offer knowledge and learning specifically for women entrepreneurs. Our two (English and French) FCC Women’s Summits, held on International Women’s Day, were attended by 740 participants and had over 500 on-demand views following.
FCC continues to work to engage the next generation of producers and agribusinesses. One way is by providing multiple offerings to minimize financial barriers - our Young Farmer Loan and Young Entrepreneur Loan are aimed at producers under 40. We also have the FCC Starter Loan for first-time producers and agribusiness operators between 18 and 25. All products offer flexible financing terms at discounted rates and fees. In 2021-22, FCC enhanced and expanded these three loan products for young borrowers entering the ag industry or looking to grow their existing business.
We continue to help agriculture students discover the modern, forward-thinking industry of agriculture. Teaching them how to collect and properly manage farm data sets them up to run more profitable operations, enhancing industry knowledge and success. Currently, 13 post-secondary institutions use AgExpert in the classroom, helping students understand how digital decision-making can allow them to monitor costs, improve yields and better manage farm information.
Diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace
FCC seeks to have a workforce that reflects the diversity of the communities where we work and live. Our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion has never been stronger, and we continue to close gaps and make FCC a more inclusive and equitable workplace. FCC continues to enhance our ability to attract, hire, retain, develop and advance employees who are members of under-represented groups. This year, we engaged an additional 20 diversity-serving organizations, including newcomer centres and organizations serving people experiencing disabilities. As part of our Summer Student Program, 33% of students hired during the fiscal year self-declared as belonging to an equity group.
FCC is currently executing our Indigenous Employment Equity Plan focusing on workforce supply, talent and candidate readiness; recruitment, retention, advancement and partnership; and workplace inclusion and accountability. One element involves more strategic partnerships with Indigenous-serving organizations and post-secondary institutions. This year, FCC has identified and initiated outreach to 10 Indigenous organizations across Canada. We continued our contracts with post-secondary institutions for the Indigenous Student Empowerment Fund, which provides Indigenous business or office education students with funding for food, rent, transportation, computers and household bills. We’ve also strengthened existing partnerships, including developing a new internship program between the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technology and our Information Technology division.
This year, we built on the successful rollout of an all-employee Indigenous awareness training course delivered in 2019-20. We’ve extended truth and reconciliation education to consultants, casual employees and some of our external partners. We’re also in the early development of advanced Indigenous awareness training that focuses on supporting employees who work directly with Indigenous communities, enabling them to expand their knowledge, skills and cultural etiquette to build sustainable relationships.
We can make a difference when the industry comes together to fight food insecurity. Drive Away Hunger, our flagship community investment program, has been a catalyst engaging the agriculture and food community in raising food and cash donations since 2004. Whether our partners grow, produce, process or distribute, there’s an opportunity for them to help replenish food bank shelves in rural and urban communities.
This year, a record 36 million meals were donated to food banks and feeding programs across Canada. FCC contributed 2.6 million meals towards this year’s campaign, with the remaining donated by 126 agriculture and agri-food partners across Canada. FCC employees across the country participated in the program to help raise food and cash donations to support food banks and hunger programs in their communities. In addition, 200 Indigenous and rural schools each received a donation of $1,000 to support school feeding programs in their communities.
Tackling food waste
Reducing food waste is an important strategy for reducing food insecurity and combating climate change. If we use more food that’s currently available, we can provide it to those struggling and reduce pressure to produce more. In 2019, FCC donated $150,000 to one of Canada’s largest food banks to establish a repackaging line. Now in operation, it can process 1,000 kg of food per hour. This allows the food bank to accept and redistribute large quantities of surplus fruit and vegetables to organizations that feed people in need. In its first six months of operation, the repackaging line rescued over 30,000 lbs of high-nutrient food for food aid organizations. FCC continues to look for more opportunities with our partners to make an even greater impact on food insecurity and waste.
Responsible supply chain
It’s important the suppliers we work with share FCC values and reflect what we stand for. Our Supplier Code of Conduct outlines our expectations and processes to help employees who manage contracts hold suppliers accountable for their ethical and moral business practices.
FCC is committed to promoting the economic growth of Indigenous businesses, communities and Peoples. We encourage Indigenous inclusion within our supply chain to support and align with Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Through achieving PAR certification targets, we’re creating an Indigenous procurement policy, establishing Indigenous procurement goals and objectives, and exploring how to build relationships with Indigenous companies for future contracting opportunities. We’ll focus on providing greater access to procurement opportunities for Indigenous Peoples, educating Indigenous vendors on how to successfully capitalize on opportunities within our supply chain and promoting Indigenous labour and skill development with vendors.