Food and grocery industry "still has a way to go" on diversity, inclusion, IGD says

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Food and grocery industry

Although the food and grocery industry has made progress in diversity and inclusion, it still has a way to go, according to new research.

The study by provides "a snapshot" of diversity in the industry. It also hopes to enable companies to benchmark themselves and "act as a catalyst to change". This is according to a representative of the MBS Group, one of the groups responsible for the research.

Research and training charity IGD also partnered with PwC in the project to understand how the industry performs on the vital topic of diversity.

The report's findings show that while 84% of food and grocery companies believe they are performing better when it comes to diversity and inclusion, only 45% of them have developed strategies to improve.

Findings indicate what the industry should prioritize

Companies tend to think that they are doing better than they were five years ago. However, reality shows that there is more to be done.

Researchers analyzed data from over 200 companies and spoke with more than 100 executives. In doing so, they sought to "paint a true picture of diversity and inclusion in the industry".

“While the case for diversity and inclusion is strong in all business sectors, it’s especially so in an industry like food and grocery," comments PwC partner John Terry.

This is because the "customer reigns supreme".

The study titled "Diversity in Food and Grocery", also includes various case studies with companies like Coca-Cola, the Kellogg Company and Procter & Gamble. Researchers limited their range to UK's industry.

PwC UK comments that results confirmed that diversity and inclusion need to be a part of an organization's "cultural DNA" and strategy.

"What’s clear from businesses that are making the strongest progress on diversity is that this requires the same board-level direction, organization-wide push, understanding of the data and regular reporting, intervention and incentives that would be applied to any other strategic priority."

Specifics of diversity in the food and grocery industry

A specific factor in this strategy is gender diversification efforts, according to statistics from the Hampton-Alexander review.

The industry is doing well in terms of gender pay equity. The median gender pay gap within the food and grocery industry - 6.8% - is lower than the UK economy as a whole - 9.6%. While this is true, only 27.6% of Board roles are occupied by women. This number drops even lower to 22.2% when looking at Executive Committee roles held by women.

"The progress that has been made in gender equality and the wide range of initiatives already in place to nurture female talent is particularly encouraging. But there are other levers of diversity beyond gender that can also help to create a diverse workforce – age, ethnicity, LGBTQ, social mobility and disability, amongst others. The research shows there is much more to do in these areas," says CEO of IGD Susan Barratt.

Other areas of diversity

For instance, in the UK workforce today, 19% of individuals have a physical disability. Of those interviewed, only 15% were able to identify someone with a physical disability in their workplace. However, disability figures are difficult to pinpoint because most companies do not collect data on disability.

Similarly, companies don't tend to collect data on LGBTQ employees. When asked about senior leadership teams, 27% of participants could identify an openly LGBTQ leader in their business. It also details the "most common approach to the LGBTQ agenda is to focus on promoting an inclusive working environment".

Findings also point to the importance of nationality for companies looking to create diversity strategies. This is because of a "looming labour shortage" and UK's changing relationship with the EU. There is "a strong bias towards EU nationals" for executives in the industry. This may point to a need to diversify.

Additionally, across the sample of 50 companies, 82% of Executive Committee members were British. In comparison, 73% of members across the FTSE 350 were British.

Often confused with nationality, representation of ethnic diversity in industry is about in line with standards. It shows that only 11.4% of Board members are from an ethnic minority background. This is close to the working population at large (12.5%).

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