Graze is particularly advanced on disability inclusion. Can you talk a bit about this?
Disability inclusion is something that’s very pertinent to me personally. My son was born missing a hand, which really thrust me into that experience. I think it’s an underdeveloped aspect of I&D, but one that offers enormous potency to businesses.
We’ve been talking to a company called The Ability People, which is run by an ex-Paralympian. It’s been fascinating. The organisation essentially audits your business to ask “how accessible – physically and mentally – are you to your employees?”
Not all disabilities are visible, which can make them harder to support and cater for. How are you approaching this at Graze?
I’d say that we’re more advanced in the area of neurodiversity than physical disability. We’ve really embraced it across the team and used it as an opportunity to talk about the advantages that neurodiversity can bring to a business.
But there are definitely challenges. Physical disabilities are probably easier to recognise and manage in the office space, whereas it can be difficult to know which questions to ask regarding invisible disabilities. We’re currently going through a process where we’re receiving advice on how to remain inclusive at interview and onboarding stage. For example, on our job specs we say 'If there are any accessibility adjustments to our recruitment process that would mean you find it easier to apply, please let us know' but if you're not able to read our typeface in the first place, then we're not making it accessible for all to apply and so we're working through some technical changes there.
Overall, we're trying to create an environment where people feel comfortable to talk to Graze through the application process, through the onboarding, and through the first six months of their career.
Mental health is closely linked to non-visible disability inclusion. How are you supporting your team from this perspective?
We’ve got up to about 25 mental health first aiders, out of a cohort of 125 so it’s a big number that we’ve invested in. Those people are around on a confidential basis to talk to, not as a counsellor but as somebody to offload to, and talk to, and maybe get advice on whether to talk to a professional.
Which initiatives, across the whole of I&D at Graze, have had the most impact?
Interestingly, using Slack has really enabled us to talk to people differently. For the most part, sending an email to a group can feel quite corporate. Whereas using Slack allows us to open up, have more conversations, and gives people the opportunity to share things that they’ve found interesting. We’ve found that people are learning and are becoming better educated through content shared from other members of the team.
What does progress on I&D look like at Graze?
One thing that I’ve been delighted to see is that everyone is much less nervous to have conversations about diversity. As that comfort level has increased, we’ve gained the ability to say “we messed up,” which I think is really important. Admitting when we’ve missed the mark, and talking about it publicly and openly is a true sign of progress.
Graze was acquired by Unilever in 2019. How has being part of a group had an impact on the diversity agenda?
Being part of the diversity network, [email protected] has really added value to me as an individual member, and we can take learnings from it at Graze. More generally, we can take great inspiration from work at Unilever, such as their brilliant apprenticeship programme.
What one piece of advice would you give to businesses looking to sharpen their focus on I&D?
Be really open as people. It’s about education and a willingness to be educated.