We’re celebrating National Inclusion Week

By Rak Kalidas, Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Compass Group UK & Ireland
Blog

An update from our Head of Diversity & Inclusion, Rak Kalidas

As it’s National Inclusion Week, I wanted to share an update around our work on diversity and inclusion and discuss some of the steps we have taken so far.

At Compass Group UK & Ireland, we want everyone in our business to feel safe, supported and able to be themselves at work. Our goal is to foster solidarity among the Compass family by ensuring that every member of our team is treated with dignity and respect at work, whoever they are and whatever their identity. We are further supporting this goal by providing equal opportunities for career progression within the company, and by widening access to our career opportunities beyond the business to encompass all in our society.

Since taking on my new role a few months ago as Head of Diversity and Inclusion for Compass Group UK&I, I have been overwhelmed by the positive response from people of all backgrounds and positions putting their hands up to participate in our drive for greater inclusivity. I am both proud of the steps we have already taken as a group and inspired by the insights and ideas of the team as to how we can continue to identify and overcome the challenges that remain.

A reminder of our commitment

We are proud to have announced our commitment to the Race at Work Charter earlier this year as an important first step towards continually improving opportunities and outcomes for people from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds in our UK workforce. It’s an initiative I have been leading on and I’m pleased to see it has received such an excellent response from everyone within the business. Building on this, we held a series of confidential listening sessions with colleagues to learn more about their experiences both within Compass and in the wider community. These insights have helped us to identify and map common themes and develop an understanding of how to move forward, which has prompted numerous different workstreams for Within, our newly formed cultural diversity employee network, to pick up on.

Our LGBTQ+ and Allies network has re-launched this year with a new brand and logo to accompany our renewed sense of purpose. Pride in Food is about celebrating individuality and identity and treating everyone with the respect and fairness that they deserve, and its themes are a continuation of the expectations we hold ourselves to as part of our Dignity @ Work commitments and training.

Women make up more than two-thirds of our UK&I workforce, and one-third of our Executive Leadership Team. We are continually striving to nurture exceptional female talent at each stage of our pipeline through initiatives like our Leadership Accelerator Programme, a partnership with Mumsnet to help mothers returning to work to enhance their leadership potential. Our Women in Food Ambassador Network established in 2016 continues to be a focus as we aim to attract women into the food industry and promote their professional development.

To further support our mission, we have taken a closer look at the partner organisations we are currently working with and identified those we could potentially work with in the future to help implement strategic initiatives across recruitment, retention, learning and development. We are proud of our longstanding partnership with Springboard to help people from disadvantaged backgrounds upskill and prepare themselves for the world of work, and we are working closely with leading charity Hospitality Action to develop materials and information for people to access to support their mental health and wellbeing at work. We are working closely with groups including WiHTL to increase access for people from underrepresented backgrounds at all levels across our business, particularly in leadership positions.

All this feeds into our Diversity and Inclusion strategy for the future, which will be grouped around four distinct focus areas:

  1. Listening – seeking to hear and understand first-hand from our employees
  2. Attraction – recruiting, retaining and developing staff
  3. Progress – moving forward with identified opportunities and new initiatives
  4. Taking a stand – ensuring diversity and inclusion has high visibility in our goals and promoting accessibility to the support infrastructure we put in place

Our National Inclusion Week daily activities

We have lined up a stellar array of daily activities for Inclusion Week, including webinars and podcasts that the team can benefit from. One initiative I’m particularly excited about is the introduction of ‘Inclusivi-tea’, where we will encourage colleagues to take time out to discuss diversity and inclusion with each other – virtually in the first instance because of the pandemic.

We also won’t stop here – our industry as a whole needs to drive a wider cultural change. We are committed to keeping diversity and inclusion consistently high on our agenda at every level across the business to drive the change we wish to see.