Life at General Mills

General Mills employee networks ensure everyone has a seat at the table

Employee Network Summit celebrates what it means to boldly be, boldly belong.
Employees talking at the Employee Network Summit

‘Champion Belonging’ is a core value at General Mills.

One way this comes to life is through our diversity and inclusion employee networks, which help to create a culture where all employees want to work, stay and grow. 

General Mills has seven employee networks: Black Champions Network, Betty’s Family Network (LGBTQ+), Women’s Leadership Network, Asian Leader Network, The Familia Network, Veterans Network and the Disability Network. 

2022 Employee Network Summit

Our employee networks (with the exception of the Women’s Leadership Network) recently gathered in person for the bi-annual Employee Network Summit in Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

Driven by the theme, ‘Boldly Being, Boldly Belonging’ this year’s summit explored and celebrated what it means to boldly bring your most authentic self to work. 

Day one kicked off with a fireside chat between Chairman and CEO Jeff Harmening and International Group President Sean Walker on what it means to Champion Belonging. 

“For me, belonging is the emotional end state of inclusion. If diversity is who’s sitting at the table, and inclusion is their voices being heard, then belonging is how they feel. And people make decisions based on how they feel,” said Harmening. “If people feel like they can come to a place where they belong, they’ll feel better about themselves, and about the company – and we’ll all do better because of it.” 

Over the course of the two-day event, employees across our networks had the opportunity to hear from leaders; engage in vulnerable discussions on the importance of diversity, inclusion, and belonging; attend development sessions; and connect with each other in-person for the first time since 2018. 

The Women’s Leadership Network, who did not attend the summit, gathers every March for their annual International Women’s Day celebration. 

Building a culture of belonging

Our networks welcome all employees, whether as a member of a specific community or to ally with the community. 

Each offers support, development and opportunities including: 

  • Providing meaningful professional development 
  • Offering safe spaces for network members to connect and build community 
  • Driving cultural awareness  
  • Leveraging General Mills to influence policy on behalf of member communities 
  • Volunteering and/or community service
  • Advocating on behalf of member communities with General Mills businesses/brands 

“Our employee networks are a key ingredient in our global inclusion strategy,” says Molly Sjostrom, senior manager, Inclusion. “At General Mills, we believe that it takes all of us to create an environment where every employee feels empowered and encouraged to bring their ideas and unique voices to the table, and our business benefits as a result.” 

We’re proud of the work we've done to advance DEI in the workplace and excited to share that we’ve been named to Seramount’s 2022 Inclusion index as a leading company for these efforts. 

“We are honored to be recognized for our commitment to foster an inclusive culture where all employees have a seat at the table and can thrive,” says Juliana Batista, head of diversity and inclusion. “Employees continue to share that it’s our inclusive culture that sets General Mills apart.” 

Hear directly from some of our employee network leaders and members in our Boldly Being mini-documentary trailer. 

Watch the full documentary here and learn more about our networks below. 

Black Champions Network 

The Black Champions Network (BCN) was created in 1995 and was the first official employee network at General Mills. 

The creation of the network was inspired by a need to support Black professionals and provide a safe space for members to be their authentic selves, develop leadership skills and gain exposure to senior leaders. 

Sean Walker, president of our International Segment, often reflects on his experience as a founding member of the network and the pride he has in seeing the growth of both the BCN and the broader network community. 

Today the network's mission is to champion the growth, development and success of all Black employees while maximizing their contributions to General Mills’ goals and objectives. 

Starting in 2020, the BCN hosted its first annual Juneteenth celebration, a company-wide Day of Action for employees to advance their alllyship journey, give back to their communities and educate themselves and others about the history of Juneteenth.  

Betty’s Family Network 

The BCN paved the way for Betty’s Family, our second employee network, to be recognized.   

Betty’s Family Network exists to advocate for LGBTQ+ employees within General Mills, promoting an environment where all employees are empowered to be their authentic selves and contribute fully to General Mills. 

General Mills’ history of Pride and LGBTQ+ inclusion dates to the early 1990s. The company has continued to be a leader in promoting equality both inside our organization and in the communities we serve. We have received a perfect 100 score on the Human Rights Campaign corporate equality index for the last 16 years in a row.

Mark Addicks, one of the original members and an executive sponsor for Betty’s Family, was the first openly gay officer at General Mills in 1995. His leadership made a lasting impact on the culture of General Mills.  

In 2010 General Mills expanded employee health care and financial benefits to include same-sex partners, and in 2012 we were the largest company to publicly oppose a constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality in our home state of Minnesota. 

Today, General Mills continues to advance equality and is actively lobbying for the Respect for Marriage Act, legislation that would write current same-sex and interracial marriage protections into law in the U.S. 

Womens Leadership Network 

The Womens Leadership Network was also formed in the 1990s and since then, has grown to become the largest employee network at General Mills. 

Today the network has thousands of members with representation in every country where General Mills operates.  

The purpose of the network is to enable all women to thrive. The network works closely with the Senior Leadership Team to advocate on behalf of women at all levels of the company on issues like parental leave, flexible work, gender representation and more.   

The network’s crown jewel event each year is the International Women’s Day celebration, an opportunity for members and allies to come together to be inspired by A-class speakers, focus on personal and professional development, and connect with members around the globe. 

Asian Leader Network 

The Asian Leader Network has transformed throughout the years but has been in place supporting members for over 20 years.  

Today the network is on a mission to champion the advancement and development of the Asian community to drive growth and winning performance for General Mills. 

Additionally, the network celebrates cultural events including Diwali and Lunar New Year.  

The Familia Network 

What began in a room with 8 Hispanic/Latino employees more than twenty years ago has become a vibrant community of Hispanics and allies.

The Familia Network exists to champion a diverse, inclusive culture that connects, develops, and leverages Hispanic/Latino talent to maximize our collective strengths and drive impact at General Mills.

Today, they are a thriving Familia that accelerates growth for their individual members and the business. The Hispanic Advisory Panel, which serves as an internal focus group, is just one way the network provides a fast and authentic pulse on market product fit for our brands.

Veterans Network 

The Veterans Network started in 2012 with a mission to build empathy, advocacy and belonging through engagement, empowerment and development of Veteran and ally talent. 

Today, the Veterans Network has representation from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. Many of its members say the network has provided a sense of community and camaraderie like what they experienced while serving. 

Disability Network 

Our newest employee network, the Disability Network, was launched after an internal Courageous Conversation event where employees shared their disability stories. The courage they showed in sharing their stories publicly inspired other employees to raise their hand and come together to form this network. 

The mission of the Disability Network is to champion a diverse, inclusive community that engages, empowers, and develops those with physical, mental and/or emotional disabilities and their allies to drive impact and contribute fully to General Mills’ success. 

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