Ben’s Original brings scholarship to help black hospitality workers’ careers

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Mars Food’s Ben’s Original brand is launching a new scholarship programme – the Seat at the Table Fund – to help support access to skills building and mentorship for Black hospitality workers so they can further their careers in the food industry.

Together with education provider Leiths School of Food and Wine, the programme will offer 15 funded places on selected courses offered by the famous culinary institution.

It ranges from shorter specialised courses that run over a couple of days – Food Styling and Knife Skills – to longer accredited professional courses which run over a 10-week period – Chefs Skills, Plant-Based Essential Cooking and Nutrition in Culinary Practice. Successful candidates will also be offered three hours of mentorship over the course of three months via Be Inclusive Hospitality’s proven scheme to provide support, knowledge sharing and personal development.

This program is open to applicants who identify as Black working in operational roles in UK hospitality (those involved in the day-to-day running of the operation such as Chefs, front of house or kitchen staff) who are looking to further their careers in the food industry.

While 17 per cent of UK hospitality workers are from ethnically diverse backgrounds, the majority are working in lower paid jobs. This is especially true when it comes to Black hospitality workers who are one of the groups least likely to be in the highest paid roles, and second most likely to be in lower paid roles. Black hospitality workers are also least likely to have access to opportunities that would support career progression such as a coach, sponsor, development scheme or qualification. This data points to something systemically inequitable, and has informed our understanding of where we should focus to help remove barriers.

“Everyone deserves equal access to opportunities so we can all develop, progress and succeed in a career we love,” said Dave Dusangh, Regional President Mars Food Europe. “However, sadly there are still barriers that exist within society that mean this isn’t always the case for everyone. Within the UK hospitality industry, data shows that Black workers are underrepresented particularly in the highest paid roles and through our Ben’s Original Seat at the Table Fund we hope to create more equitable opportunities to help change that.”