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Inclusion and diversity key factors in attracting and retaining talent

Fifty-six percent of organisations that responded to our 2022 Regional Skills, Retention & Attraction Survey indicated that inclusion and diversity (I&D) is a strategic priority when recruiting. Sex/Gender diversity (89%) was the aspect of I&D that most companies are seeking to address. This was followed by Racial Diversity (84%) and Disability (61%). For our latest HR Leaders Webinar, we welcomed Lisa Fox, Group L&D Manager at Nomad Foods, to share her insight into Nomad's I&D journey over the last few years.

A collective ambition

Nomad Foods is the largest frozen food manufacturer in the UK and Europe, and the second-largest in the world, with around 8,500 people based in various European locations. Inclusion at Nomad means having diverse perspectives and lived experiences in the workplace. According to Lisa, an inclusive culture helps Nomad Foods stay relevant to consumers and communities. Creating an inclusive culture has enabled the business to attract, develop and retain the best talent in every country and at every level.

The collective ambition at Nomad Foods is focused on creating a culture where everybody feels that they can be themselves when they come to work. Lisa states that the business has enjoyed consistent growth since adopting this attitude, as people are more interested in working for the company as well as in buying its products: “By giving everyone a voice, we make better decisions and deliver better outcomes. Our business and profits have been enhanced by this approach.”

Significantly, it’s an approach endorsed by the leadership team – a key factor in its overall success, says Lisa. Nomad’s leaders want a diverse range of people working at the business. And because the board themselves are very diverse, representing different cultures and countries, for example, adopting a top-down approach to I&D has ensured that the diversity at board level is mirrored in the factories and elsewhere in the organisation too.

Start with inclusion and diversity will flourish

Nomad Foods’ I&D strategy is based on three areas proven to make the biggest impact – Inclusive leaders, Inclusive culture, and Inclusive hiring. At the heart of the strategy is the idea that an initial focus on engendering inclusion will lead to better organisational diversity over time. This is supported by employee networks that promote diversity, inclusion and belonging.

All initiatives start with the executive team, says Lisa. The business has a bi-annual review of I&D activities and utilises its Enterprise Leadership Team (ELT) – a mixture of senior leaders across Europe and the UK – to help turn the I&D strategy into action. Business leaders are also empowered to do what is relevant in translating I&D strategy at the local level. 

Lisa explained how I&D programmes are open to any employees wishing to participate in planning and executing I&D initiatives. Those involved help bring different perspectives and act as a driving force to make sure initiatives are spread far and wide across the business. “It’s really empowering for people to become part of our I&D programmes.”

HR plays a central role in raising awareness of I&D across different factories and work functions. According to Lisa, the business also governs, tracks and reports I&D progress publicly. This includes lots of public speaking, where HR leaders share examples of successful I&D initiatives undertaken at Nomad Foods. 

Inclusive Leadership

How do you manage a diverse workforce and make sure that you act as a role model for the types of behaviours required to achieve an inclusive culture?

Inclusive leaders set the conditions so that an inclusive culture can flourish. Nomad Foods considers inclusive leadership as being the most critical factor in creating equal opportunities for diverse talent in the workplace. Lisa noted how employees’ feelings of inclusion nearly double when leaders make inclusion and diversity a visible priority and role model inclusive behaviours

All leaders at Nomad Foods are given the requisite support to ensure that they become the best leader they can be. This includes training on how to treat all people equally. Leaders also learn about equal opportunities and diverse talent in the workplace perspectives. The intention, Lisa says, is to demonstrate the importance of employee feelings from multiple viewpoints.

Inclusive Culture

How do you create a culture that empowers people to be themselves?

An inclusive culture makes diversity work. According to Lisa, it is an environment where respect, equity and positive recognition of differences are all cultivated. There are no barriers to a positive employment experience. Professional growth is all about leveraging your uniqueness and challenging the status quo. “If you have a different view to anyone else, then that’s great,” says Lisa.

In the inclusive culture programme, employees are given the tools and training to empower them to be themselves in the workplace. At seminars held throughout the year, people come together to discuss their limiting beliefs and unconscious biases. After completing the programme, staff members become ambassadors for I&D across the business.

Inclusive Hiring

How do you ensure that your employer brand represents the people that work in the company, as well as consumers who buy your products?  

Inclusive hiring is the process of connecting with, interviewing and hiring diverse individuals through understanding and valuing different backgrounds and opinions. “We want the workplace to be truly representative of the world at large”, says Lisa. To achieve this Nomad Foods seeks to connect with potential employees on a personal level.

In the inclusive hiring programme, Nomad Foods trains managers on how to interview in a way that will encourage diversity. Employees also learn how to write inclusive job ads that attract people from all backgrounds. “We make sure that our managers are fully equipped with the tools and techniques required to build a workforce that is truly representative of the world around it.”

The role of employee networks

Nomad Foods has a range of employee networks that represent different diversity categories employed by the business. They include:

  • Disability in Nomad
  • Rainbow Alliance
  • Women in Nomad
  • Young Careers Network

By joining a network, employees get exposure to people across the wider company who have similar outlooks and workplace challenges. Together, they can find ways to promote better inclusion and diversity in the business. According to Lisa, employee networks help drive innovative initiatives and make sure that I&D has a voice in the organisation every day.

Each month, the business supports a particular cause, whether it’s International Men’s Day, International Women’s Day, Black History Month, or Disability Day. Nomad’s Rainbow Alliance employee network recently supported Pride month by delivering webinars and providing other information on Pride initiatives to the company.

According to Lisa, the business is particularly proud of its Shine for Women Programme. This initiative encourages female employees to aspire to become the next CEO of the company. Developed out of the Women in Nomad network, the programme helps female staff to bolster their personal brand and learn ways to overcome imposter syndrome.

What success looks like

I&D is very much a part of everyday life at Nomad Foods, says Lisa. This is thanks to the investment the business has made in I&D over the last few years. Employee networks are important in getting staff to buy into the wider I&D agenda. And as these networks continue to evolve and expand, Lisa believes embedding a truly diverse culture will only become easier.

“It’s something that we’re really proud of. You have to keep the momentum going, but once you get to the point where people are talking about I&D all the time, it starts to feel like an implicit part of the culture and not just a policy agenda. We take small steps every day to enable each of us to bring our whole self to work, to give our best performance and achieve our full potential.”

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