IGD collaborates with the food and consumer goods industry to ensure faster progress on driving inclusion and diversity forward

Date : 03 December 2020

IGD has launched its new research into inclusion and diversity (I&D) in the industry, which clearly demonstrates commitment and energy to make tangible progress but also shows that there is more work to be done.

The research report, Inclusion and Diversity – Benchmark your progress and build your plan builds on the pioneering research that IGD conducted in November 2019, in conjunction with The MBS Group and PwC, Diversity in Food and Grocery.  At that time, IGD analysed how the industry was performing from a diversity perspective and this latest research examines the current challenges and barriers to progress.

This new report, which surveyed 30 companies and interviewed senior HR leaders across major retailers, food service providers and branded manufacturers, provides a benchmarking framework and gives practical advice that companies can use to help support the development of an I&D strategy.  This underpins IGD’s commitment to inspiring and enabling change in the industry. From providing insights and facilitating co-mentoring opportunities to free events and industry networks, IGD continues to be a force for good in driving progress in the industry.  

Despite the challenging times and current focus on commercial and operational priorities, many companies have found this year to be a catalyst for change and have worked hard to gain senior alignment in order to have more meaningful conversations across the entire workforce.  Key findings include:

  • Over 80% of companies surveyed reported having I&D as part of senior leadership conversations
  • 50% of those surveyed have an I&D strategy in place
  • 45% of companies have been identified as ‘on the starting blocks’ and have yet to formally set out their stall on I&D.  Barriers include dealing with the current crisis and the struggle to secure leadership buy-in needed to prioritise the agenda.  Common characteristics include ad hoc senior leadership conversations, employee insights predominantly coming from employee engagement surveys and the delivery of some ad-hoc training
  • Only 40% of respondents have targets that measure progress
  • Over 90% surveyed stated that gender diversity forms part of their I&D plans
  • 50% of respondents reported that making progress on ethnicity is the most challenging area, largely due to inaccurate data and the lack of relatable role models
  • 60% of companies surveyed stated that a lack of diverse role models within the company to support the agenda was a significant challenge this year.

The industry survey has identified three tiers to highlight where companies currently sit, according to their I&D strategy progress. IGD has developed a framework based on common characteristics identified via the survey and formed action points that can be used to benchmark and support leadership discussions: 

  1. ‘Sprinting ahead’ (30%) – these are typically companies which have prioritised I&D at the very core of their business for over three years
  2. ‘Up and running’ (25%) – companies in this tier have found this year to be a catalyst to kick- start their strategy, have created opportunities to listen to employees across all parts of their organisation and they are starting to implement training plans
  3. ‘On the starting blocks’ (45%) – this group are still on the starting blocks and have yet to formally set out their stall on I&D. For many, both internal and external pressure is building, creating a burning platform to act

Susan Barratt, CEO of IGD, said: “As the largest consumer-facing industry and largest private sector employer, the need for our industry to lead the inclusion and diversity agenda is significant.  Last year, we made a pledge to champion this important topic and ensure it stays high on the industry’s agenda. One year on and we remain fully committed to driving this agenda forward.

“Despite what has been a very turbulent year, there is vast evidence to suggest that an inclusive and diverse organisation will help organisations prosper in the future.  Our insight gained from our conversations with senior leaders reveal that many recognise that consumers, employees, investors and trading partners are increasingly expecting them to demonstrate strong I&D values and plans that align with this.

“We have built a good foundation to continue our research in this area and provide a benchmark for those in the industry to track against. Our aim is to help businesses share best practice, which will guide organisations to develop the right strategy. We are determined to make sure we keep the conversation going.  I&D is a journey for the long term. To accelerate, we must embrace it in all levels of our organisations and tackle it in a multi-dimensional way.  Together, we will encourage a continuous conversation and support organisations through the coming year.”

As part of this commitment, IGD is working with the industry to support the development of diversity strategies. It has developed a 10 step checklist, based on common themes and learnings from its research and conversations with companies that will help others identify practical steps they can take to move I&D forward in their own business:

  1. Define what I&D means for your organisation
  2. Identify your strengths and priorities for improvement
  3. Lead from the top
  4. Set targets and measure progress
  5. Foster an inclusive culture and mindset
  6. Educate and support your line managers
  7. Identify and prioritise interventions
  8. Share success stories
  9. Learn from others
  10. Keep I&D high on your organisation’s agenda

To mark the launch of the new research report, IGD recently conducted a live panel discussion and Q&A session, designed to support companies seeking to accelerate their I&D plans. Speakers included:

  • Sue Eilfield, VP People & Culture and Inclusion & Diversity – Coca-Cola European Partners
  • Pauline Hogg, HR Director, UK – Arla
  • Amanda Scott, Director of Talent, Learning and Diversity & Inclusion – Compass
  • Fiona Miller, Director of People Programmes – IGD
  • Wendy Seddig, Director of Talent and Culture – Premier Foods

The session was attended by 45 HR professionals in the food and consumer goods sector, who were able to gain practical advice, hear how companies are overcoming common challenges and the lessons learnt, and understand how they can benchmark their company’s plans against IGD’s new industry survey.

The panel shared best practice and discussed the challenges and opportunities they have faced in developing their own I&D strategies. It is apparent that organisations are on a journey and at different stages, even within the larger global corporations, with I&D progress differing between countries. The panel also shared recommendations on how to track I&D progress through practical advice and tactical inventions.  

Benchmark and build your inclusion and diversity plans: panel discussion is available to watch here: https://www.igd.com/research/skills/inclusion-and-diversity#webinar

The full Inclusion and Diversity: Benchmark your progress and build your plan report, along with the 2019 Diversity in Food and Grocery report, are available to download at: https://www.igd.com/research/skills/inclusion-and-diversity#2020research


For media enquiries and interview opportunities please contact McKenna Townsend on [email protected] or 01425 472330.

Notes to editors:

  1. Diversity in Food and Grocery was released in November 2019. The MBS Group captured data on and profiled the leadership teams of the 200 largest companies across the industry, specifically concentrating on the three highest leadership levels:  
    -    Boards (excluding Executive Directors), where applicable
    -    Executive Committees
    -    Direct Reports (those who report into the Executive Committee, excluding administrative staff)
  2. IGD’s industry survey was conducted in October 2020 with 30 companies in the sector and interviewed senior HR leaders across major retailers, food service providers and medium to large-branded manufacturers.
  3. All content is owned by IGD. If you use or refer to any content in this press release, please credit IGD

About IGD

IGD is a research and training charity which sits at the heart of the food and grocery industry. As a charity we exist to upskill people working in or looking to join the food and grocery industry. We also manage initiatives driven by research and best practice relating to science, technology or economics in the food industry. IGD has a trading subsidiary that provides commercial services. The profits from these commercial services fund the charity. For more information, visit www.igd.com

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