What gets measured gets done’ is a mantra straight out of Business 101. Which is why the fact that so many food & drink businesses still do not collect robust data on ethnic diversity should raise eyebrows.
As we reveal in a special report this week, just nine of the UK’s leading 20 retailers and fmcg suppliers say they currently track the ethnic background of their staff.
Tracking diversity data can be controversial and, of course, isn’t a solution in and of itself. But the feedback from the experts we spoke to is clear: data is a crucial starting point that can help to open up conversations. You often don’t know how big a problem you have until you’ve tried to quantify it.
The lack of engagement doesn’t stop at data capture, though. Despite numerous requests, none of the top 20 retailers and suppliers agreed to put forward a spokesperson to discuss their approach to racial inclusion. Sure, not everyone necessarily wants to discuss their inclusion policies publicly, but the deafening silence is nevertheless remarkable.
Especially when the business case is so strong. A review into ethnically diverse workplaces led by Baroness McGregor-Smith in 2017 found “inclusive organisations, which attract and develop individuals from the widest pool of talent, consistently perform better”.
At a time when gender equality is finally becoming a priority for fmcg boards and many companies proudly celebrate their commitment to the LGBTQ+ community, the apparent lack of urgency around ethnic diversity is startling.
Part of the reason may well be, as experts acknowledge, that conversations about inclusion are often difficult and companies are nervous about making mistakes. But the companies we are talking about here are successful businesses with huge reach, smart internal and external comms teams and consumer insight by the bucketload. If anyone should grasp the importance of diversity and figure out a way to deliver on it within their own ranks, it’s surely them.
And with mandatory reporting on ethnic diversity now firmly on the horizon, they may soon run out of excuses not to.