Global Diversity as a Recipe For Success

By Dr. Hamed Faridi

As a naturalized Iranian-American and a scientist, I feel extremely fortunate to call America, today’s great beacon of science and culture, my home. I came to the United States in 1971 to attend graduate school. I received my Ph.D. in 1975 and went back to Iran eager to serve my country in the field of food science and nutrition. But all of my efforts to advance this research came to a halt due to the political turmoil that engulfed the country. Married only two months, my wife and I left Iran for good in July 1979.

Because of my experience as a newcomer to the U.S., I know that diversity and inclusion are not just corporate phrases, but values that must be integrated into the daily life of an organization. McCormick & Company has 10,000 employees in 25 countries, and this global perspective drives the best ideas, insights, and solutions to meet changing needs.

Diversity is the norm in food culture where consumers are drawn to uniqueness over traditional offerings. It is also a necessary competitive advantage in a global market that is continuously shifting in demographics, household composition, eating behaviors, and the impact of global flavors around the world.

One of our most significant and popular initiatives is our annual Flavor Forecast, which identifies emerging culinary trends — in 2010, for instance, we predicted the coming popularity of pumpkin spice. To develop each Flavor Forecast, we gather a passionate group of chefs, expert culinary professionals, sensory scientists, dietitians, trend trackers, marketing experts, and food technologists from across the world. They spend a year following their culinary instincts wherever they lead, researching, and painstakingly pooling insights. This year’s Forecast includes flavors hailing from Peru, Malaysia and the Philippines, among other places.

Global talent and diversity are the catalysts for our innovation, and we strive to take a broad view on talent acquisition and to create an inclusive environment where all employees have the opportunity to achieve their full potential. Among our efforts:

  • We created our initial Diversity Council in 1995, a grassroots team that was very passionate about diversity and worked to create awareness and education within the organization. We evolved this approach in 2009, dedicating a full-time position and creating an Executive Global Diversity & Inclusion Steering Team which sets strategy and direction in growing our global footprint and competing for the best talent.
  • We focus on making sure we are not siloed in our thinking with hiring and selection. One strategy we have put into place is the creation of our Global Mobility group, which looks more broadly at opportunities to be more agile and flexible in integrating talent around the world. Key initiatives include expanding global assignments, international transfers, and global short term business experiences.

I am very proud of my Iranian heritage, and aspire to live up to the high standards of thousands of years of Persian culture and to preserve and celebrate it in my home, community, and in my professional life. Shortly after arriving in the U.S. in 1979, I joined the food science faculty at Washington State University. A couple of months later, American diplomats in Tehran were taken hostage, which made things difficult for us as new immigrants. Although the university administration did so much to help us, an organization such as Upwardly Global could have made our integration journey much easier. I greatly appreciate the efforts of UpGlo and similar organizations in helping a new generation of immigrants to fulfill their dreams and aspirations in their adopted country.

Dr. Hamed Faridi is the Chief Science Officer of McCormick & Company, Inc.

McCormick & Company, Inc. manufactures, markets and distributes spices, seasoning mixes, condiments and other flavorful products to the entire food industry — retail outlets, food manufacturers and food service businesses.