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Diversifying the pour: Embracing EDI in the drinks industry

In a world where equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) are gaining significant traction, it’s clear the drinks industry is making noteworthy strides in prioritising EDI in its recruitment processes.

I have spent the last couple of weeks having insightful discussions with recruitment leaders specifically within the drink industry, to include Diageo and Whyte & Mackay, around how they are prioritising EDI within their recruitment strategy and have shared some of my key findings below:

Educating Existing Staff:One recurring theme that emerged from my interviews was the emphasis on educating existing and new staff around the importance of EDI. The drinks industry recognises that change starts from within, and proactive steps are being taken to enlighten teams about the profound impact of a diverse and inclusive workforce.

They also highlighted the importance of unconscious bias training and ensuring this is part of the onboarding process and is mandatory for all staff. Whyte & Mackay are also ensuring that all staff have been trained on this.

Quoting Craig Kennedy (Whyte & Mackay): “It’s especially important for hiring managers to be made aware of unconscious bias as we want to move away from the preconceived idea that only candidates with a background in the drinks industry can be successful. We want a diverse workforce from different backgrounds”.

Wording Matters: Another crucial aspect highlighted by recruitment leaders was the significance of language in job descriptions and communications. The drinks industry is revaluating the wording used in its job listings to attract a more diverse pool of candidates. Subtle changes can make a substantial difference in conveying an inclusive workplace culture.

Quoting Jordan Lyell (Diageo):When it comes to putting out job adverts or creating job descriptions, we’ve become mindful of using gender-neutral language and avoiding any terms that might unconsciously discourage underrepresented groups from applying. It’s a small but impactful step towards creating an inviting recruitment environment.”

Reasonable Adjustments: Recognising that inclusivity extends to the interview process, recruitment leaders are making conscious efforts to ensure that candidates with diverse needs are accommodated. Offering reasonable adjustments is a critical step in creating an environment where all candidates, regardless of their background, can perform at their best.

Another point made around the interview process was to ensure all potential candidates feel welcomed, comfortable and supported throughout the recruitment process. Businesses should ensure candidates can have access to the full JD, the opportunity to visit the offices prior to interview to familiarise themselves with the layout, and to have the interview questions beforehand, where possible.

Diverse Interview Panels:

A diverse panel brings together individuals with varied backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences, contributing to a balanced evaluation of candidates. Furthermore, a diverse interview panel helps dismantle biases inherent in traditional hiring processes, promoting fairness and equal opportunities for all candidates. Each recruitment professional I spoke with discussed the importance of ensuring they have a diverse panel whether this be gender, age, length of service, disability or background. Diageo and Whyte & MacKay both spoke about the work they are doing to ensure they have a diverse interview planning for all level roles. It is crucial to make candidates feel comfortable.

“It’s really important that we have a diverse panel when interviewing. One thing we are really trying to promote is moving away from your stereotypical hiring manager and HR interview panel. We include people from different areas of the business in order to get more balanced decision. We still keep it relevant to the job but we get good feedback on offering something different”

In the dynamic landscape of recruitment, and in particular within the drinks industry, embracing EDI in the hiring process is not just a strategy; it’s a cultural shift. The commitment to educating existing staff, carefully choosing words, and supporting all potential candidates from different backgrounds is indicative of a sector that recognises the strength in diversity.

By prioritising EDI, the drinks industry is not only shaping its workforce but also setting a standard for inclusivity that can inspire positive change across industries.