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Producing Excellence

Producing Excellence shares compelling stories of American farmers and ranchers, both newcomers to agriculture and producers who span generations.

Producing Excellence

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Ivory Tate

Ivory Tate, Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer at the Farm Credit Bank of Texas 

Farm Credit Bank of Texas

Austin, TX

Products: Financial services to five states

Size of Operation: Nearly$14 billion in assets; 202 employees

Years in Business: 95

Farm Credit Bank of Texas is a cooperatively owned wholesale bank with assets of $13.9 billion. Part of the Farm Credit System, the bank provides loan funds and services to 17 local lending organizations that serve farmers and ranchers in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico and Texas. One important part of the bank’s business strategy is a commitment to being an inclusive organization, in which all people are treated with respect, recognized for performance and valued for individual differences.

“We understand the business value of building a diverse team across all dimensions, and inclusion of the full spectrum of thoughts and ideas,” says Ivory Tate, vice president of human resources and chief diversity officer at the Farm Credit Bank of Texas. “By embracing the differences among people and making the most of those differences, we gain access to a wide variety of input so we can develop the most effective solutions, processes and products.”

In 2005, the bank established a corporate diversity strategy that formalized its commitment to creating a culture of diversity and inclusion. A key component of this strategy was the creation of a Corporate Diversity Council, which is made up of a cross-section of individuals throughout the organization. The council is open to everyone in the bank, and has grown each year since it was established, underscoring the strength of employee interest in this issue. The group meets regularly to evaluate how diversity objectives are being met and to recommend actions to further these objectives.

The bank’s diversity and inclusion activities vary widely, from employee education to building relationships through corporate sponsorships and volunteer activities. For example, it hosted a Native American speaker at an employee event, who shared her oral tradition and explained the uniqueness of her culture. Employees attend and participate in local cultural events, representing both the African American and Latino communities. Volunteerism is also encouraged at the bank, and as part of the diversity program, employees spent a workday with the horticulture club at a local high school that serves the Hispanic population, working in the community garden and helping build a greenhouse. The bank also sponsors professional diversity groups, such as the National Association of Black Accountants, and directs both college scholarships and recruiting efforts to schools that target diverse populations.

“Our diversity and inclusion activities are as diverse as the marketplace,” says Ivory. “They all have one thing in common, though: increasing understanding of the numerous cultures and backgrounds of central Texas. This will better position the bank to recognize the needs of the changing agricultural marketplace and help us support our customers by meeting those needs.”

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