Black Talent Initiative

The business case for diversity has never been stronger but to reap its benefits we also need equity and inclusion. In 2021, Yara’s Black Talent Initiative embarked on the road to eliminating racial discrimination and making Yara a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace.

The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and others in 2020 sparked outrage and started debates all over the world about systemic racism. In a letter to all employees in June 2020, Yara’s CEO Svein Tore Holsether vowed to fast-track the ongoing diversity and inclusion work to ensure that discrimination is rooted out and that all employees have equal opportunities.

Diversity does not equal inclusion

Being a global company with colleagues in 60 countries, many people thought of Yara as an inclusive, culturally and ethnically diverse company. Moreover, Yara has had Diversity & Inclusion as an integral part of its business strategy since 2018. Yara’s 2020 employee survey revealed that 88% of Yara’s employees felt treated with respect as an individual, and 84% believed that Yara promotes and values diversity. In 2021, these numbers improved to 90% and 87%, respectively.

At the same time, a race audit completed in March 2021 by an independent third-party, involving more than 100 colleagues in the US, Europe, Brazil, and South Africa, found clear evidence in policies, practices, and the lived experiences of Black colleagues in Yara, that systemic barriers that impact their ability to progress and thrive in the company do exist. 

Fernanda Lopes Larsen
Fernanda Lopes Larsen, EVP Africa & Asia

While many organizations may be diverse, it takes continuous effort to make it inclusive. An inclusive leadership and culture are needed to create a work environment free from bias and discrimination and with equal opportunities.

“Sometimes you have to name the issue explicitly to be able to resolve it. Zooming in our efforts on Black individuals is about focus - not about exclusion.”

Fernanda Lopes Larsen, EVP Africa & Asia

Naming the issue

While recognizing that discrimination, bias, and lack of visibility and opportunities also affect other minority groups in Yara, the decision was made to start the journey towards becoming a high performing, racially diverse, inclusive organization with a focus on Black talent. “The Black Talent initiative is not a one-off project, but rather a first step. The truth is that opportunities for Black individuals in the corporate world are unfortunately limited and Black people, particularly Black women, feature among the most frequent on the perverse scale of inequality. And sometimes you have to name the issue explicitly to be able to resolve it. Zooming in our efforts on Black individuals is about focus - not about exclusion. Our hope is, in fact, that other ethnic and minority groups in Yara draw inspiration from our efforts to address their more specific needs,” says Fernanda Lopes Larsen, EVP Africa & Asia.

Where we are

Many are impatient and want to see change happen quickly. But doing it right, means doing it thoroughly. The race audit with in-depth interviews and focus groups was the foundation for concrete action. 

Anika Jovik
Anika Jovik, Head of Investor Relations


In 2021, 170 senior leaders started a Borderless Leadership Program, a program intended to build knowledge and skills among managers to improve their comfort and capability in addressing non-inclusive behavior. Yara’s summer interns received training on the topics of inclusion and power and privilege, and all employees were invited and encouraged to do an individual Race Diversity Self-Assessment. In 2022, a leadership program for Black talents will be launched.

“I sense much more openness and curiosity to learn and talk about a subject that for most was not part of their daily lives.”

Anika Jovik, CFO Industrial Solutions

The business case for diversity, equity
and inclusion

Analyses show that the most diverse companies are now more likely than ever to outperform less diverse peers on profitability. Because it is both the right and the smart thing to do, Yara has diversity, equity, and inclusion as key components of our corporate strategy. The events, discussions, and learnings of the last two years have contributed to a shift in mindset: “I sense much more openness and curiosity to learn and talk about a subject that for most was not part of their daily lives. It is heartwarming to see white colleagues trying to understand the realities and challenges Black people face in the corporate world and society at large, while pledging support and commitment to become an ally to the cause” says Anika Jovik, CFO Industrial Solutions and co-leader of the Black Talent Initiative together with Fernanda.

To establish a diverse environment free from formal hurdles and discrimination does not mean we will have created an environment wherein everyone has equal opportunities. “The starting points in life for black and white people are normally very different due to historical and economic reasons and understanding that is essential for Yara to design and implement targeted interventions and provide the right level of support”, complements Fernanda.

Our approach to the Black Talent initiative starts from the principle that racial and ethnic diversity is a strength. Individually and organizationally, we will benefit immensely from the value that diversity brings if we create the right environment for individuals to thrive.

Making sure we do so is everyone’s responsibility.