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How to Champion Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in Your Workplace

diversity & inclusion

How to Champion Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in Your Workplace

The world of work has changed dramatically in recent years. The pandemic has heightened awareness of the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Recently, there has been an increased realisation from employers that they need to be doing more to promote diversity and inclusion.

A recent CIPD survey found that two-fifths of employers said that they believed a prior investment in diversity and inclusion would help them respond effectively in a crisis to both employee and customer needs.

There are benefits for both employers and their teams when equality, diversity and inclusion are championed in your business.

Today, we look at why this is and how to build a more diverse team.

Keeping Your Diversity and Inclusion Commitment

It is no secret to employers that a diverse food manufacturing team is a productive team.

A Harvard Business Review report found that teams with a diverse make-up outperformed individual decision-makers 87% of the time when making decisions. Plus, various groups have proven to have increased innovation and creativity, have higher employee engagement, and generate increased profits.

But unfortunately, during the ongoing Covid-19 situation, diversity and inclusion have slipped down the list of priorities for many organisations.

Before the pandemic, 14% of employers ranked diversity and inclusion as one of their top three priorities, whereas further into the lockdown, only 5% still counted it as of high importance.

Equality, diversity and inclusion. Although it has gained momentum in recent years as an essential issue, employers must not treat it as a ‘trend’ to dip in and out of when it suits them.

It must be built into the mission, vision and ethos of your company.

The Equality Act 2010 states that no individual should be discriminated against in the workplace due to their age, disability, gender, marital status, race, or religion. Yet, in 2020, there is still much work for many food manufacturers to do to ensure that they are operating an entirely equal and inclusive working environment.

So, let’s look at how manufacturing employers can ensure they champion equality, diversity and inclusion in their place of work.

diversity & inclusion pic

Create a Culture of Equality

One of the more challenging elements of creating a fair and equal environment in your food manufacturing workplace is changing the climate that may have been in place for many years, sometimes even decades.

Management styles are passed down through generations in food manufacturers as one set of managers and leaders replaces another and picks up subtle ways of working, which can become set within the company ethos.

At best, this can include acting and behaving a certain way which only serves a few individuals out of a whole team, hiring the same type of people. At worst, it can mean actively shunning certain groups of people. This is done consciously and subconsciously (we will discuss unconscious bias in more detail in the next section).

So to combat inequality and cultivate a culture of equality, you need to address this at the most basic level. By including equality, diversity and inclusion article in your company mission statement.

But including an equality objective in your manufacturing organisation is just the first step.

Remember to continually review and evaluate your policies and procedures to ensure that equality is present in:

  • Your recruitment
  • Career opportunities and promotion decisions
  • Learning and development
  • Disciplinary procedures
  • Performance management

Next, let’s look at tackling unconscious bias in your manufacturing workplace.

Managing Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias can affect all of us. It must be managed effectively in your manufacturing organisation. From whom you choose to employ, whom you decide to promote. Which team members do you ‘prefer’ working with, and how do your team members engage with each other.

We are naturally attracted to people with whom we find common ground. Therefore, this affects the way we interact with others both in the workplace and out of it.

You could look into training programmes for the entire team on how to spot and tackle unconscious bias. But, unfortunately, this type of bias is so ingrained that we often don’t realise it is happening.

There are also some ways to spot and stop unconscious bias in your workplace, including:

  • Being aware of the potential for unconscious bias. Talking about it with employees and making them aware of how their interactions can affect others.
  • Question yourself and the decisions you make regularly. Have you chosen a particular individual for a new project because they are the best person for the job? Or because you tend to favour them?
  • Create a support network for employees. Let them know that if they feel they have been overlooked or singled out due to a bias, that there will always be support for them and that you will actively work to remedy this.

Finally, let’s look at the most accessible place to champion diversity and inclusion in your food manufacturing workplace – your recruitment process.

Championing Diversity in Your Recruitment Process

Suppose you are committed to increasing equality, diversity and inclusion in your organisation. Your recruitment process is where you can start to make positive changes.

Recruitment can be a complex and emotionally-charged event.

Many employers and hiring managers have very stringent ideas of whom they believe they are looking for, for a particular role. And, of course, this affects the potential for a diverse workforce.

Whether conscious or not, it is a fact that hiring managers like to hire people who remind them of themselves.

But this makes for a very un-diverse workforce.

What can be done to reduce bias in your recruitment process?

You can introduce blind skills challenges. For example, use AI in your recruitment process or use new and different channels for advertising your roles. You can also work with a dedicated food manufacturing recruiter.

Working with a recruiter will allow you to reduce the amount of bias in your recruitment process. They will work as a mediator between the company and the candidates, which allows for a completely unbiased selection process. But they can also challenge your ideas of the kind of candidate you are looking for and locate candidates you would never have been able to access when working alone.

To find out more about how to champion equality, diversity and inclusion in your organisation by working with a recruiter, you can contact us on 07835426149. Please email us here at [email protected] or connect with us on LinkedIn.

Remember – creating a diverse workforce leads to higher engagement, greater productivity and is better professionally and personally for every team member.

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Scott Williams

Scott Williams

I’m an independent owner of Food Recruit - Search & Selection. Passionate about the Food Manufacturing industry having spent time as a Supply Chain Manager and Business Development Manager for two of the UK’s largest meat importers. High Care, Low Care, Chilled and Ambient I have worked across all markets including B2B, Foodservice, Wholesale and Retail.

I fell into recruitment in 2016 to start a Food & Drink desk in a long-standing Engineering Recruitment business in the West Midlands. Progressing on to Business Development Manager covering multiple markets before starting my own agency in September 2020.