Last week, I took part in The Festival of Inclusion in Hospitality Travel and Leisure (HTL) - a two-day virtual event celebrating diversity across the industry, and an important opportunity to consider what else we can do to encourage further inclusivity.
I joined the discussion panel ‘Leading diverse people in a post pandemic future’, on one important topic to me: women in the workplace.
Inclusive Leadership Benefits Everyone
My UK senior leadership team is 50% female and Aramark Northern Europe Executive team is 38% female. On the Executive team, in addition to myself as MD for the UK, women also head up our Marketing, Legal, Safety and Property services departments across the region. It is fantastic that we have so many women in senior roles across the organisation, but I feel strongly that employee engagement on this topic needs to reach (and come from) every level.
Following the lead of our offices in the US, our Northern Europe teams are currently developing the EMPOWER employee resource group (ERG), along with other awareness training and mentorship programmes that will support female employees, in particular. These groups create opportunities for connection, collaboration and sharing of personal experiences with like-minded people – while also strongly encouraging allyship and advocacy for certain groups who may face greater barriers in the workplace.
In addition to the EMPOWER ERG we are also launching a PRIDE ERG in the coming weeks, with future plans for an ERG aimed at young professionals within our region, THRIVE for those with a disability and a diversity group. These groups are open to all employees from frontline staff to those based in our regional offices.
Culture of Openness
One of the key themes I spoke about during on the panel was the need for openness. Employees need to feel they are being heard to give them a sense of belonging – something we know always comes to the fore of memorable experiences in customer service and hospitality industries. For me and many of our colleagues with caring responsibilities, this can take a very familiar form that I strongly encourage our people to discuss openly.
As we are now hopeful that the world is starting to return to normal, it is an exciting time for everyone in the Aramark business in Northern Europe. As UK Managing Director, it is my job to drive the UK region forward with ambitions to double the size of our UK business in the next year. Aside from all of the strategic, commercial and operational sides to achieving this aspiration, it also needs our people to feel confident to bring their full selves to work every day!
We know that there are so many benefits of a diverse workforce for both our organisation and for our clients. We provide services for such a spectrum of customers from hospital patients, to those in the armed forces, office workers to those working on oil rigs. A diverse, inclusive, engaged workforce can only be positive, and I’m excited for what I business is planned to do to promote and support this going forward.