Land O'Lakes' Beth Ford Makes History as First Out Lesbian CEO of Fortune 500 Company

by Kevin Schattenkirk

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday January 21, 2021

Land O'Lakes president and CEO Beth Ford.
Land O'Lakes president and CEO Beth Ford.  (Source:Land O'Lakes, Inc.)

In a new interview, Land O'Lakes President and CEO Beth Ford discusses her experience as the first out lesbian to helm a Fortune 500 company.

Ford was recently awarded the Yahoo Finance/INvolve OUTstanding Top 100 Role Model LGBT+ Executives 2020. Nominated by peers and colleagues, all executives on the list identify as LGBT+. Land O'Lakes is an agricultural, member-owned cooperative with a specific focus on dairy products.

According to Land O'Lakes' latest financial release, the company reports a "net sales of $2.9 billion and net earnings of $66 million for the third quarter ending September 30, 2020" with a year-to-date net sales of $10.3 billion and $184 million net earnings.

Ford says that it is an honor to be named the top recipient of the 2020 prize, stressing the importance of "being a role model" and that such lists illustrate "the important work done to empower the LGBTQ+ community this year. These lists are indicative of the progress made, and of the progress possible." Ultimately, being a role model includes, as Ford believes, "bringing your authentic self to work, and enabling others to do so."

Citing the importance of diversity and inclusion, Ford explains that Land O'Lakes prioritizes the recruitment and retention of a diverse workforce as well as advocates "for our members and the communities in which they live and work." Ultimately, Ford seeks to make both employees and the company's customers feel "valued for exactly who they are."

Joining Ford in the Yahoo Finance/INvolve OUTstanding Top 100 Role Model LGBT+ Executives 2020 are prominent corporate figures such as Erik Day (Senior VP, Small Business, Dell Technology), Suzanne Timmons (Director, Corporate Engineering, Google in the U.K.), and Brent Miller (Senior Director, Procter & Gamble), among many others.

Last year, Land O'Lakes removed the Native American woman from their packaging, a move viewed as culturally sensitive and relevant.

Read the interview with Beth Ford here.

Kevin Schattenkirk is an ethnomusicologist and pop music aficionado.

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