A conversation about diversity with Edlong’s Laura Enriquez, VP R&D – Global Applications; Binu Nair, Manager – Food Safety & Quality; and Fabi Wilfong, Director of Customer Service & Logistics.
We embrace diversity at Edlong, supporting initiatives outside and inside our offices. For example, Edlong is the only dairy flavor house that’s a certified Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) and we are active members in the NMSDC (National Minority Supplier Development Council), among other organizations. We were honored to be named to the inaugural list of Best Places to Work for Minorities by Crain’s Chicago Business in 2017. In addition to offering flexibility, security, opportunity and recognition, the ten Chicago-area companies that received this award were commended for providing exceptional opportunities for mentorship, advancement, support and offering an intangible sense of belonging for diverse employees. That’s one of the reasons why we’re excited that Tuesday, May 21 is World Day for Cultural Diversity, a day dedicated to encouraging dialogue to bridge the gap between cultures. We recently had the pleasure of posing questions to three of our employees to discuss their backgrounds and how Edlong’s diversity impacts them. On Friday Edlong will be hosting a potluck lunch in our US offices in celebration of our diversity. Employees are invited to bring in a dish to share with everyone that they associate with their cultural identity. They will have an opportunity to write a brief description of the dish and tell us what inspired them to share the dish with everyone.
Thank you for being such important members of our team. Can you share how long you have you worked at Edlong, and your experience before you joined us?
Laura Enriquez: This is my 26th year here. I got my Bachelor’s in Mexico City at Universidad Iberoamericana, in Food Science. Before Edlong, I worked for Givaudan de Mexico as a Food Scientist in the Applications department.
Binu Nair: I have a double graduate diploma in science, one in Agriculture and the other in Law, a masters post graduate diploma in Environmental Science from Goa University in Goa, and am currently pursuing my MBA. I’ve been with Edlong for almost three years, but I have worked in the food industry within food safety and quality for almost 20 years.
Fabi Wilfong: I joined Edlong a little less than two years ago. For the past 20 years, I have been working with import/export compliance, logistics and international food and beverage import regulations. I obtained a bachelor’s degree in physical education and sports science from a Brazilian university. I also have a graduate degree in leisure and events management, and currently I am focused on finishing my MBA.
Tell us a little about your cultural or ethnic backgrounds. Also, how has that impacted your career, and helps you do your job at Edlong?
Binu: I’m a proud Indian, from Goa, the smallest state in the western part of India, yet the most secular culturally and religiously diverse state, with great weather, food, dance, music, beautiful beaches, churches and temples. In Goa, food and celebration brings us closer. Our rich, family-oriented culture helps keep me flexible, adaptable, humble and productive in my life and in my career. It keeps me grounded.
Laura: I was born in Mexico City. Speaking Spanish is an advantage, as Edlong does business in Latin America, so I can communicate well with our Spanish speaking customers. Being familiar with authentic Mexican cuisine is also an advantage, as Mexican Food is trending and I can help ensure that the flavors and profiles that we create at Edlong are authentic to the region.
Fabi: My maternal grandparents were descendants from Portugal and Spain. My paternal grandparents were from Czechoslovakia and Hungary. My father was from former Yugoslavia and my mother was born in Brazil. But I mostly identify myself with the Brazilian culture.
I believe that exposure to different cultures and ethnic backgrounds modifies the way a person thinks and reacts to things. It is beautiful and intriguing at the same time! When you learn about a person and their culture it’s like an exchange. You leave a little bit of you and incorporate a little bit of another, and that makes you a better individual. You will always learn something that will lead you to respect and/or love what, originally, was different. I think that’s what I love about food. What a wonderful way to learn and experience different cultures!
When anyone walks into our offices, they can immediately see the range of cultures and people represented at Edlong. What does that diversity mean to you?
Laura: It is always interesting to learn about different cultures, about their families, their awesome food, their trips back home. The different educational backgrounds allow me to learn from all of my co-workers.
Binu: Being from a culturally diverse country like India, diversity comes very naturally to me, whether it is in the form of knowledge, food or people. Regardless of color, shape, size, language or any other character that differentiates you from another human being, we always treat others with love and respect.
Fabi: We learn from each other, and because sometimes we see things from different angles, it enhances the possibilities of creating something great and different.
Thank you all for your time. And thank you for all the talent, dedication and experience you bring to Edlong!