Founder, St Pierre Groupe
St Pierre Groupe is an international bakery business. With a turnover in excess of £100m and 80 employees worldwide, its portfolio includes the St Pierre, Baker Street and Paul Hollywood brands. As a small business at the beginning of its journey, St Pierre Groupe is prioritising inclusivity and proving the power of inspiring leadership, driven from the top down.
What does inclusion and diversity mean at St Pierre Groupe?
St Pierre Groupe is a small organisation, but as we’ve grown, inclusion and diversity has evolved organically. Our inclusive culture is a reflection of the people in the organisation, rather than a box-ticking exercise. It’s not about writing values on the wall, or marketing diversity externally, but about living our values and fostering a culture of mutual respect.
And as a leader, what does I&D mean to you personally?
First of all, it’s critically important that as a business leader you understand the complexities of diversity, but also the opportunities that it can bring.
My wife writes films about diversity and all that word encompasses. As a result, I’m attuned to the issues at hand, which I think means I&D comes more naturally to me. An inclusive mindset must come from within you, and I think those without an inherently positive attitude to difference can find it difficult to adopt an open mind.
I’m also encouraged and inspired by younger generations. They carry far less bias, and it’s exciting to see this positive change play out.
As a business leader I feel a responsibility to be part of that change. Ultimately, every business is a team of people… so if diversity isn’t at the top of your list, then you need to step up your game.
How do you promote an inclusive culture?
Part of it is about the language you use as a senior leader. I lead from the front and I know I’ve earnt the respect of my colleagues by treating everyone the same.
My finance director once said to me, “you’re gender blind.” I’d never thought about it like that but that’s how we work – we just look for the best person, and as a result, we’re a diverse group– nearly three quarters of our management team are women.
We’ve also recently hired an HR manager who leads the diversity agenda. She attends our board meetings, which is a clear demonstration to the board and our team that we are prioritising the people at the heart of our business.
In terms of a formal diversity and inclusion agenda, you’re fairly early on in your journey. What is next on your list of priorities?
As a leadership team, we’re working closely with our HR manager to discuss ways to formalise our inclusive culture.
We’re starting to think about data collection and about how we can launch employee engagement surveys to learn more about our workforce.
Addressing unconscious bias is also on the list. While unconscious bias training can be useless without an inclusive culture to underpin it, we’re talking about what support we can give to our team in this area.
Additionally, we’re having some exciting conversations about how we hire, and are exploring the idea of blind CVs to try and avoid any discrimination that can creep in.