A new survey released from the Agri-Food Diversity and Inclusion Forum, developed by Bord Bia and Aon, has revealed that 85% of business leaders in the Irish food and drink sector industry have stated that attracting and developing diverse talent within the industry impacts growth prospects.

Four out of five CEOs surveyed said they rank gender equality, diversity and inclusion as priorities for their organisation.

The survey found that flexibility in the workplace is still the most important criteria for employees when assessing employment opportunities. 79% of employees are provided with flexibility in working hours and 7 in 10 within the industry are offered the opportunity of either part time working, job sharing or working from home options.

The Agrifood Diversity and Inclusion Forum’s Pulse Survey found that there is a disconnect between business leaders and employees on the importance of the diversity and inclusion (D&I) agenda: 84% of business leaders state that gender equality and diversity and inclusion are priorities for their organisation, yet only 63% of employees believe this is true where they work while one in five believe D&I is ‘a box to be ticked’.

This gap is also evident in the progress made in attracting, retaining and progressing a diverse workforce to senior management with 86% of business leaders stating advancements have been made in recent years while only 65% of employees believing that to be the case. While 1 in 2 business leaders think diversity and inclusion is a high priority within the organisation, 24% have not dedicated any time or focus to the issue.

Steps have been undertaken with the food and drink sector to create a diverse talent pool with 79% of employees confirming Irish food and drink firms offering graduate specific programmes, 76% offer part-time working and 86% providing health and wellness supports.

These measures are playing a role in improving the attractiveness of the Irish food and drink industry to top talent with 4 in 5 employees surveyed choosing to work in the sector due to the opportunities offered to use their qualification and 7 in 10 highlighting the prospects of career advancement.

CEO of Bord Bia, Tara McCarthy said: “It is evident from the data that, in line with the Origin Green charter, we are successfully advancing the diversity and inclusion agenda with 85% of CEO’s within the Irish food and drink industry, therefore enabling more companies to be in a strong position to compete to attract the best talent at all levels and across all fields of discipline.

“The difficulties posed by Covid-19 means that business leaders will now need to balance their short term needs with a longer-term vision of how diversity can contribute to strengthening the resilience of their business. We believe that the insights from this survey will contribute to supporting the Irish food and drink industry on a road to recovery through innovation and diversity of thought.

“To assist in this process, the AgDIf Forum has developed a free online Toolkit for all companies in the food and drink industry, designed to embed a best practice culture in Irish businesses that will ensure that both companies and the entire sector remain competitive and attractive as a talent destination.”

For more information on the Pulse Survey visit: https://www.bordbia.ie/globalassets/bordbia2020/about/agdif/pdfs/agdif-pulse-insights-2020.pdf.

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