- A new study from Deloitte and The Food Industry Association (FMI) found that 68% of food and beverage companies are training their employees on diversity and inclusiveness to prepare for future workforce challenges.
- However, 65% of food product suppliers acknowledge that their leadership does not represent the general population. In a separate analysis, Deloitte and FMI found that the percentage of women and other historically marginalized people in board-level positions in the food industry only grew by 4 percentage points between 2018 and 2020. This growth lagged behind nonfood companies, which increased board diversity by 11 percentage points.
- Many food and beverage companies have vowed to improve the diversity in their workplaces and hiring after the summer 2020 racial justice protests. This report shows that much of that progress remains to be seen.
Food companies looking to improve their diversity still have a way to go to hit the goals that many announced over the past year.
As part of their study, Deloitte and FMI surveyed more than 150 food and beverage companies in March and April 2021, conducted in-depth interviews with 15 industry leaders, and analyzed board diversity data. They found that women and historically marginalized people made up only 35% of the executive boards of food and beverage companies in 2020, compared to 47% who make up the boards of nonfood consumer product businesses.
Last summer, amid nationwide protests after the killing of George Floyd, many companies announced plans to set higher goals for diversity in their hiring processes and board rooms. In 2020, PepsiCo committed to spending $400 million over the next five years on initiatives to increase representation of Black and Hispanic Americans in its company. Last month, the beverage and snack giant announced it is "on track" to meet its goal of increasing the diversity of its managerial ranks in the U.S. to 10% by 2025.
This month, the company added Edith W. Cooper, who has served as executive vice president and global head of human capital management at Goldman Sachs, as an independent director. In a statement, PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Ramon Laguarta said Cooper's "strong background in building and attracting talent will serve PepsiCo well as we bring new capabilities to our team and advance our commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion."
In June, Keurig Dr Pepper announced its commitment to increase the amount of women and people of color in director and above roles by 25% by 2025. The beverage company also received a perfect score in the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index for 2021. The ranking measures corporate policies and practices related to LGBTQ workplace equality.
While companies may not have reached their goals, many leaders are optimistic about their chances. The authors of the report note that 70% of food industry executives said that their diversity training has created a more positive work environment. Many companies have said they are trying to emphasize diversity among their workforce, with 86% saying that the main goal of their senior leadership is to make progress on their DEI goals.
In order to make companies a more welcoming place for historically marginalized people, the report’s authors recommend that executives focus on increasing diversity at all levels of their workforce, since "cultivating a strong pipeline of diverse leaders" lower in the ranks can allow these employees to ascend to higher roles when they become available. The authors said that "vague commitments to make improvements" are not as effective as making clear goals to hire a diverse range of executives.