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Bringing true diversity to kitchens

Bringing true diversity to kitchens is as much a challenge for the hospitality sector as it is for many other industries.

Describing what we mean by diversity can be challenging, accessing underutilised and disregarded workforces means that some of us have to embrace communities of which we often may have little knowledge, experiences and understanding. It is clear that to successfully engage with groups like prison leavers, those who have been homeless, disabled and stigmatised communities, for example we may need some help to deliver a successful outcome for both potential candidates, employers and employees.

Two things of vital importance

Firstly, access to ‘job ready’ candidates for the groups that we would like to attract. Here we can get help from organisations like Shelter or Tent or NACRO (an organization that aims to reduce crime by supporting people in finding alternatives to crime) who can help to identify ‘job ready’ candidates for the groups that we would like to attract.

Secondly a clear approach to help those that we employ thrive in the kitchen or other hospitality environment when we bring them into this unique industry. All too often employers hire from new workforce areas where recruits are then left to ‘sink or swim’ with their new kitchen colleagues. There are two critical success factors:

1. Mentoring- those who arrive may need some help adjusting to their new environment, so some form of mentoring and other personal support is a good investment if you wish your new employees to be in it for the long term.

2. Team cohesion -your existing employees might need some help themselves to learn how to adapt themselves to the new employees that join them from different recruitment routes.

The need for a good new employee landing platform

There is absolutely no point in moving ahead on new recruitment idea without investing in the landing platform that will make retaining new recruits much more likely. The cost of continually replacing staff is significant. At The Chef Partnership we estimate that it can cost between £15,000 and £22,000 per chef per in terms of lost productivity, poor teamwork and recruitment costs. Far better to keep those you have or foster an environment with significantly higher engagement and retention numbers whenever you recruit new.

Creating a destination industry

If we want a truly diverse industry that can accommodate a wide variety of both physical and emotional needs, we need to take some action. We will not create a destination industry for new and varied talent unless we change the status quo.

1. Value our people rather than accept high attrition rates as standard.

2. Consider a wide variety of needs rather than the stereotypical approach we sometimes have of ‘survival of the fittest’ in the kitchen.

3. Invest in the emotional wellbeing of our hospitality staff, support with stress management and wellbeing key for future success.

4. Acknowledge the need for change and celebrate the different approach and choices we are now making.

5. Accept we cannot do this alone! Ask for help and support to drive the change we must make to create.

Hospitality is attractive to a very broad range of candidates. We can make hospitality a destination rather than a default career. It is an industry where raw talent, regardless of who you are or where you come from can deliver an excellent career, BUT we need to put in place some basic building blocks that support both those we wish to attract from the broadest range of backgrounds and those who we already employ to help them transition into a more diverse culinary world.

Learn more about diversity in hospitality and how to retain & attract our best chefs at

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