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Food and grocery industry needs to do more in terms of diversity and inclusion, despite the strides made in the recent years, suggests a new report from IGD.

The first-of-its-kind report, Diversity in Food and Grocery, finds that businesses seem to be reluctant to talk more openly on the topic to avoid the perception of being ‘behind the curve’.

The report, prepared in partnership with executive search firm the MBS Group and PwC, reveals that fewer than half (45%) of businesses have adopted a co-ordinated strategy on diversity and inclusion. At the same time, a vast majority (84%) of the companies in the industry believe they are performing better today than they were five years ago in this area.

Gender is one area the industry does well in relation to the wider economy, according to the report. Median gender pay gap within industry is lower than the UK economy as a whole (6.8% versus 9.6%).

Based on the latest Hampton-Alexander Review figures, the industry is ahead of the FTSE 350 cross-industry average at the Executive Committee (22.2%) and Direct Reports (35.9%) levels for the roles occupied by women. As for the Board roles, an average of 27.6 percent are women.

The number for Board members from a BAME background (11.4%) is very close to reflecting the UK working age population (12.5%). Some 5.7% of Executive Committee members and 7.1% of Direct Reports are BAME.

When it comes to ethnicity pay gap reporting, fewer than 10 percent of companies surveyed are prepared for the measure if it is introduced in the coming years.

Over a quarter of interviewees (27%) were able to identify an openly LGTBQ leader within their business, but no one with a physical disability was identified at the Executive Committee level.

“The progress that has been made in gender equality and the wide range of initiatives already in place to nurture female talent is particularly encouraging,” commented Susan Barratt, chief executive of IGD. “But there are other levers of diversity beyond gender that can also help to create a diverse workforce – age, ethnicity, LGBTQ, social mobility and disability, amongst others.”

Barratt said IGD will make sure that the topic stays high on the industry’s agenda as “there is a need – and an appetite – to do a lot more.”