Empowering women Leaders

At ofi, we are working to create a stronger, more inclusive culture across our organization and supply chain. We recognize the importance of  promoting and building a workplace where every individual feels not only valued, but that they belong.


“All the diversity initiatives we’ve developed were implemented to ensure every individual, regardless of their diversity, feels a sense of belonging,” says Janaky Grant, Chief Learning and Inclusion, Diversity & Equity (IDE) Officer at ofi. “We are hoping the outcomes are not just better customer-centricity and innovation, but also building a stronger inclusive culture across the enterprise.”

At the head of our Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (IDE) model, are our CEO, office of diversity, and newly created IDE councils in every region. While we’re embedding IDE practices within our governance structure, we know how important grassroots employee engagement is to enabling inclusive culture and building community across the organization. Our employee resource groups (ERGs) play a key role in connecting employees and promoting belonging, and being a voice for change. GROW, which started as Globally Reaching Olam Women, is our longest-standing ERG with chapters across all five regions where ofi operates. It’s a women-led employee resource group but open to participants of all genders. The group’s goal is to increase women engagement across the organization by driving a globally inclusive work environment.


In 2013, GROW was founded in North America by a group of women working for our spices team in the U.S., who were eager to create opportunities for women to learn from each other and grow their careers. After GROW saw early success of its mentoring program, they began focusing on three strategic areas: mentoring, development pods, and recognition. Since 2013, the group, now known as Globally Reaching ofi Women, has expanded to 15 regional chapters.


“GROW in the U.S. has been a beacon for our ERGs and a model for future communities to engage our employees,” says Grant.


To learn more about the history of GROW, we spoke to founding GROW member and past chair, Melissa Roslawski, Sr. Director of Strategic Accounts.

Tell us about the inception of the group, what inspired the idea and focus for GROW and who helped bring it to life?

MR: Six woman leaders inspired to increase employee engagement and make a change formed a steering committee & developed the first Employee Resource Group (ERG) in 2013. GROW (Globally reaching ofi Women) started with a vision to increase women engagement at ofi.


 Within the first year, GROW had 80 U.S. members, with a plan to launch the first U.S. pilot program of mentoring and kickoff the first global chapter. Our structure was lean, we developed metrics to communicate our success and held many roles. We built a platform to share our ideas and create change for all global employees.


GROW has since tripled membership in North America and expanded to 15 global GROW chapters. The GROW steering committee and leadership team is now 80 leaders worldwide.  These leaders live out the GROW vision and give their time to provide exclusive programs tailored to GROW members in their regions and countries. 

Thinking about GROW’s three strategic areas, is there one that stands out to you most? (Is there a story of mentorship/development, etc. that you remember most/find inspiring?)

MR: The largest chapter is GROW U.S. which expanded program offerings to include mentoring, spotlight on ofi GROW leaders, and professional development pods. Mentoring was the first program, piloted with a group of 30 participants in 2013. The program grew to over 100+ participants across the global chapters.  Our leaders make our GROW programs stronger each year. The Steering Committee and leaders evaluate the needs of our members and pivot our program offerings accordingly. This year our U.S. Chapter launched development pods with a series of events on topics related to: Five-Year Letter, Assertiveness Training, Personal Branding, and PEAT Communication Style.


How do you think GROW has helped you further your own career?

MR: As a GROW leader you develop a new lens on opportunities and form new perspectives. I started my journey with GROW as a National Accounts Manager at ofi and have since been promoted to a Senior Director in Sales. To be part of the start and evolution of GROW, create new programs, and chair GROW for eight years alongside creative, diverse, and interpersonal savvy GROW leaders is a blessing. I have learned through GROW to receive others’ opinions and ideas, allow a space for people to be heard, practice active listening, and build the path forward together.

What do you think makes an effective woman leader in business and at ofi?

MR: Leadership is stepping into your own power and uplifting others. Women are effective leaders who take initiative, engage teams, build relationships, hold high integrity, communicate prolifically, and drive results. Allison Long led our GROW Mentoring Program for four years; and in 2021 I passed her the baton to Chair GROW. Within ofi she holds the position of Senior Manager Operations Process where she leads large process improvement initiatives with a current focus on the technology sector. Allison and all the GROW leaders are effective leaders across the business who are also increasing gender equality and serving as champions of change and belonging across the company.

Editor’s Note: You can read more about ofi’s talent development programs and approach to recruitment in the 2021 Annual Report, starting on pg. 76