A 2020 study of 360 food manufacturing employees showed that while nearly 70% of workers feel they belong in their industry, only 35% feel they are well represented.

For many food manufacturers, simply paying wages is not enough to attract and retain workers. Food manufacturing businesses must provide employees with compensation, benefits, and other benefits to compete for a talented workforce. This includes working conditions, opportunities for advancement, and rewards for reaching and maintaining company and industry standards and goals. In another study 60% of manufacturing CEOs believe companies must offer benefits and career opportunities to retain and attract the best employees.

In response to these challenges, food manufacturing executives and managers need to be willing to examine their industry to identify the problems. Leaders should also review their company’s operations and identify areas for improvement. Most importantly, however, leaders should ensure that their employees feel included and that the company helps them reach their personal and career goals.

Change must come from the top of the organisation if there’s going to be real progress and change. It is the job of leadership to create a workplace culture that values diversity, where employees believe their contributions are valued and where they are empowered and supported to reach their full potential. If your company doesn’t offer an environment where all employees feel like they belong, it’s time for leaders to change it.

In collaboration with Statista, the latest FT Diversity Leaders ranking reveals not only how employees perceive their companies’ inclusiveness and promotion of diversity, it also highlights “clear sectoral differences”, as described by project lead for the survey, Camille Simon.

When averaging the overall ranking scores for each sector, Packaged Goods is out in front with 7.53 out of a possible 10. Drugs and Biotech also performed well, as did Insurance and the Travel and Leisure sectors.

Based on perceptions of a company’s inclusiveness and its efforts to promote various aspects of diversity, Engineering and Manufacturing is at the bottom of the scale. Transportation and Logistics, Healthcare and sectors such as Construction also populate the lower half of the ranking.

850 companies across 16 European countries were evaluated on diversity of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability and age. The highest ranking company was French retailer Biocoop, with a total score of 8.55.

Many companies are already undertaking some of these important steps. The Campbell Soup Company recently implemented three targeted diversity strategies. One is a formalised employee resource group, which Campbell’s developed to help close the gap between company leadership and employees of colour. Another is recruitment, with the goal of tapping into a pool of talent that is more diverse than the current employee base. The third is a program called Supplier Diversity, which the company created to create partnerships with new and existing minority and women-owned suppliers, in an effort to increase Campbell’s sourcing and support.

It is important for food manufactures to ensure that they are having diverse workforces, from not just in terms of gender, but age, ethnicity and speciality, for instance. But diversity must not be in competition with the workforce, but instead to enhance their skill set and expertise, ensuring food products are safe.

That is the reality of a wide spectrum of work. Diversity is good for people, good for business, and there are so many more tools we can use in different ways.

Diversity was highlighted as a top employer concern at a recent Food Safety Summit, which was held in London. In recent years, research by the Food Standards Agency and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development found that diversity in the workplace could be improved by just 10% in less than two years, and by a further 40% after that. Women are usually aware of these problems, but believe the issue requires more attention.

“A lot of studies suggest diversity is not as good as it could be, and it is not just when it comes to gender, but also diversity across other areas of diversity,” says Mary Pearce, director of the SME Employer Roundtable. “The team of experts that discuss diversity have found that one of the best ways to raise awareness is to bring in a diverse workforce. We really do need those different viewpoints and mindsets.

This statistic displays how companies support diversity, inclusion and belonging in 2017 according to hiring decision makers worldwide. During the survey period, 44 percent of respondents stated their company emphasised the diversity of their leadership team in order to support diversity, inclusion and belonging.

“Diversity is difficult, but it is essential in the food and food-processing industries. What is good is that we are talking more about it now. In the last few months we have seen issues around diversity in healthcare. We are getting away from the idea that if you have a white man in a top position, that person is obviously qualified. The reality is that a diverse team brings more and more experiences to the table.”

A rencent diversity initiative, known as Diversity Equality and Inclusion (Diversity EI), was launched at the SME Employer Roundtable by Nigel Bateson, who is head of diversity at the Chartered Institution of Personnel and Development (CIPD). Bateson says that food companies, particularly those operating within the food chain, are not aware of the diversity issues in their own companies. “The reason is that diversity is invisible,” he says. “It is hidden. There is not that understanding and tolerance about how things are now. There is an issue of cultural fit and if a diversity initiative is not managed well, it is only going to help a small group. If you only hire people who do the same kind of work as you do, you are going to be in trouble.

“You need to make sure you have a workforce that understands and accepts diversity. You need to understand that some of your workforce are not going to accept the same attitudes and behaviours. It is much more helpful to have a diversity and inclusion initiative in place than just a diversity project. It helps to ensure diversity is acceptable, so you know how to manage it.”

For some, the UK food sector lacks diversity. That was the suggestion of Duncan Willis, vice president for corporate finance and private equity at food distributor McKees Foods. Willis was quoted by The Daily Telegraph as saying that in many ways the UK food industry has not changed much in the last 25 years, in that there are not a lot of black or ethnic minority people.

However, there are businesses that welcome diversity. There is a new ambition for food manufacturers to become more diverse, with greater investment in training and new policies. It is clear, too, that the drive for diversity is already a global effort.

This statistic displays how companies show candidates that they value diversity in 2017 according to hiring decision makers worldwide. During the survey period, 35 percent of respondents stated their company presented diverse interview panels to demonstrate that they value diversity.

The Government must do more to highlight this growing skills gap and encourage employers to be more flexible. It’s essential for our food and drink industry to continue to attract the talent needed to produce and deliver new and exciting products to the market, not only for the long-term, but to improve their competitiveness.

Food manufacturing is a growing sector in the UK, with an increased focus on innovation and new products.

In the UK, the workforce is more diverse than in many other parts of the world.

But despite this, the proportion of ethnic minority employees in food manufacturing remains relatively low. The sector is challenging, as food manufacturers strive to bring in a diverse workforce to fulfil their needs.

To create an innovative work environment, food manufacturers should create an environment that encourages positive behaviour.

Employees should be valued and encouraged to focus on achieving their full potential.

Great culture leads to better decision making, higher productivity and greater customer satisfaction.

This statistic displays the top reasons why companies focuses on diversity according to hiring decision makers worldwide. During the survey period, 78 percent of respondents stated their company was focused on diversity in order to improve its culture.

It is important for organisations to measure progress so that they can see if diversity has increased or decreased in the past year.

If diversity decreases, it is important to know that they need to revisit their workforce policies.

To identify the problems and take steps to address them, employers should talk to their employees and find out how their expectations and values change.

They should create a culture that is inclusive, that values different personal and social values and promotes a diverse workforce.

Diversity in hiring and promotion is a proven strategy for increasing productivity, enhancing quality and fostering diversity.

But if employees are not engaged in the decision-making process, the results of a diversity strategy will be far less than desired.

The UK food industry should focus on the diverse pool of talent that it has to offer.

Diversity in the workforce and strategic partnerships are needed to support the goals of food manufacturing.

Opportunities to engage employees and share their ideas are crucial for improving product quality, product development and generating new ideas that could change the industry for the better.

Once the process is in place, a diversity plan will be well placed to succeed.

Only then will diverse employees know they can contribute to the improvement of the entire food manufacturing industry.

If you want to increase diversity in your workplace please don’t hesitate to call me, and I can discuss how Circle Select is helping other food manufacturers do just this.

Kayleigh Prowen

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