The food industry is a dynamic part of the economy that has seen significant innovation within the last decade. Those in the industry have developed many different ways to improve operational efficiency, increase the bottom line, and retain satisfied customers.
However, one part of the food industry that may not get as much attention is how we stack up when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion — or (DEI). The food sector is an industry that is ripe for positive change, and it’s up to all of us to create positive change.
This article will discuss how we can embrace diversity, equity and inclusion in the food industry and why it is vital for the sector's success.
It Comes From the Top
Entry-level positions in food service are highly diverse, but senior leadership positions in the same industry are not. This means that the food service leaders need to make a concerted effort to attract and retain talent from people that otherwise don’t have the same opportunities as everyone else.
The process of creating more equitable hiring practices starts by creating a robust hiring system and training program that attracts the right candidates on a global scale, retaining them by offering incentives and career advancement opportunities.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Efforts
From 2018 to 2020, the food industry had a 4% improvement in the diversity of senior leadership positions. This may sound promising, but the closest peer to the food industry is non-food consumer staples which grew by 11% in the same time period.
Deloitte estimated that the food service industry has about 35% of members on the board being diverse, while non-food consumer staples are 47% diverse.
This presents a significant opportunity for leaders in the food industry to diversify their workforce and promote change by appointing marginalized citizens into leadership roles. We'll dig into one of the ways that industry leaders Sysco, Darden, and FMI are continuing to create global change below.
Sysco prides itself on providing the training and resources to employees to ensure that they give everyone an equal chance to excel and fit in with their company culture. They have implemented associate resource groups with different initiatives and goals, but mainly help women and people of color connect and offer support for each other.
Sysco’s leadership in the food service space has spread worldwide to ensure that its key business practices live up to their diversity, equity and inclusion expectations.
Partnerships developed by Sysco include the National Minority Supplier Development Council, which creates opportunities for minorities to connect with corporate members to build lasting and mutually beneficial relationships.
Sysco also chooses to work with over 500 different suppliers of many other underrepresented groups, making them a leader in pushing for equal opportunities and diversity, equity and inclusion.
The Food Industry Association (FMI)
The Midwinter Executive Conference is held once per year and is the premier forum for those that want to foster high-impact dialog between executive-level food industry leaders.
As an invitation-only event, industry leaders from PepsiCo, Schnucks, and Ahold Delhaize came up with five ideas that should help companies that want to push for diversity, equity and inclusion:
- Define diversity, equity and inclusion goals and make sure they are in line with the company sales goals.
- Provide employees with a platform to listen to their customers and coworkers.
- Tell your story. Encourage others to talk about their diversity, equity and inclusion efforts transparently.
- Have a plan for new members who want to join your diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.
- Ensure that there is accountability for reaching the DEI goals and having open discussions.
As the parent company of several different well-known restaurant chains, Darden’s approach to diversity, equity and inclusion have four parts:
- Continue to develop the diversity efforts in the workplace by appointing leaders who display the values that help advance DEI efforts.
- Share the hiring best practices with every level of the company.
- Develop an inclusive environment that increases the awareness of the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion by giving leaders the resources they need with employee resource groups.
- Support the local community to enhance DEI commitment and invest in suppliers with diverse backgrounds.
Darden, like many others, believes that great ideas come from people of all shapes, sizes, and colors. It’s the job of every member of the chain, either leaders or team members, to spread awareness of the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion to help minorities find their place in the food industry.
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Our team of developers and business leaders has years of experience in the food industry and the technical expertise to create a product that makes your life easier and improves operational efficiency.
Visit our website to find out why Inecta is the best produce software solution that food industry veterans trust to grow their company and create a cohesive environment for everyone.