Food and drink sector values diversity, new survey claims

But some employees say it is a box-ticking exercise

The majority of industry leaders in the Irish food and drink sector believe diversity has an impact on growth prospects, with gender equality, diversity and inclusion a prority for four out of five chief executives, according to a new survey.

The majority of industry leaders in the Irish food and drink sector believe diversity has an impact on growth prospects, with gender equality, diversity and inclusion a prority for four out of five chief executives, according to a new survey.

 

The majority of industry leaders in the Irish food and drink sector believe diversity has an impact on growth prospects, with gender equality, diversity and inclusion a prority for four out of five chief executives, according to a new survey.

But the research, published by the Agri-Food Diversity and Inclusion Forum developed by Bord Bia and Aon, found there was a gap between what employers said they felt about diversity and how employees perceived it.

According to the survey, although 84 per cent of chief executives say gender equality, diversity and inclusion is a priority, only 63 per cent of workers think that is true, and one in five said it is a box to be ticked in their workplace.

Management

Furthermore, although 86 per cent of business leaders said advancements have been made in recent years in in attracting, retaining and progressing a diverse workforce to senior management, only 63 per cent of employees agreed.

Some 50 per cent of business leaders said diversity and inclusion is a high priority, but almost a quarter have not dedicated any time to the issue.

However, 79 per cent of employees said companies offered graduate-specific programmes, with 76 per cent offer part-time working and 86 per cent providing health and wellness supports.

That is crucial, given that the survey found flexibility in the workplace is a key issue for potential staff. Almost 80 per cent of staff said they had flexibility in working hours, with 70 per cent offered part time working, job sharing or working from home options.

“It is evident from the data that, in line with the Origin Green charter, we are successfully advancing the diversity and inclusion agenda with 85 per cent of CEOs within the Irish food and drink industry, therefore enabling more companies to be in a strong position to compete to attract the best talent at all levels and across all fields of discipline,” said Bord Bia chief executive Tara McCarthy.

“The difficulties posed by Covid-19 means that business leaders will now need to balance their short term needs with a longer term vision of how diversity can contribute to strengthening the resilience of their business. We believe that the insights from this survey will contribute to supporting the Irish food and drink industry on a road to recovery through innovation and diversity of thought.”

The survey, developed jointly by Bord Bia and Aon,questioned both individuals and companies, with 204 individuals and 46 chief executives from the agri-food sector including dairy and ingredients, meat, seafood, prepared consumer foods and alcoholic beverages.

Perspectives

“The findings of our survey demonstrate the strong business case for diversity and inclusion. Companies in the agri-food sector who attract and retain a diverse employee group benefit from a mixture of perspectives, experiences and skills that are key to fostering innovation and driving business growth,” said Ciara Jackson, EMEA Food & Drink Industry Lead with Aon in Ireland.

“The data identifies a perception gap between business leaders and the lived experiences of employees, so while there is evidence of a wide variety of D&I activity happening in organisations, supported by a variety of policies, perhaps communication with employees needs to be clearer.”

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