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The Top ESG Workplace Trends in Food & Beverage Organizations

4 minute read

Employees are a company’s best asset, and happy employees are priceless.

Providing fair pay, an inclusive environment, leading benefits, and opportunities for growth can help organizations gain a competitive advantage in today’s tight labor market. Businesses are taking note, and more companies are integrating workforce goals in their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) programs.

In our work with clients, especially in the Food & Beverage (F&B) sector, we help organizations transform their people, workplace, and ESG initiatives. Keep reading for insight into rising ESG workplace trends in the F&B industry.

What exactly is ESG?

ESG is the corporate governance and investment framework for how a company manages its impact. Many people confuse ESG for sustainability and use the terms interchangeably, but they are different concepts.

Definitions of sustainability are varied, and there is no universally agreed upon meaning in the business world. A quick Google search will bring up multiple answers, largely centered around environmental efforts. For companies, however, sustainability is essentially an umbrella term for “doing good,” encompassing all ethical and responsible business practices.

Read: Improving Supply Chain Sustainability: 5 Ways to Get Started

Because of the broad definition of sustainability, the term is becoming less important to employees, consumers, and investors. A recent survey found 58% of senior executives admitted their companies were guilty of “greenwashing,” or claiming to be sustainable without any actual metrics to back it up. The number rose to 72% for just North America.

Graphic explaining the three pillars of ESG (environmental, social, and governance)

That’s where ESG comes in. ESG clears up the sustainability ambiguity by setting specific criteria to define environmental, social, and governance systems as sustainable. ESG data is crucial for investors, as companies with strong ESG performance typically see increased growth, cost reductions, higher productivity, and fewer regulatory interventions, making them a smarter investment choice.

The “social” aspect of ESG is especially gaining traction in recent years, with people and workforce topics being brought to light amidst climate change, social unrest, the pandemic, record inflation, world conflict, and workplace transformation. To come out on top, businesses are investing in their biggest asset: their people.

The top ESG workforce trends we’re seeing

At Catena Solutions, we work with F&B organizations for their workplace initiatives, helping them keep a competitive edge among evolving expectations.

#1: Diversity & Inclusion (D&I)

According to the 2021 Global Diversity and Inclusion Market Report, the D&I market is projected to reach $15.4 billion by 2026, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 12.6%. It’s easy to see why: prioritizing D&I leads to improved employee motivation, opportunities for professional growth, and better decision making. Companies with a diverse workforce are also 35% more likely to experience larger financial returns and 70% more likely to capture new markets than organizations that don’t recruit or support diverse talent.

New trends include engaging military, LGBTQ, and civil rights organizations in recruiting efforts. Businesses are also prioritizing board diversity and linking executive compensation to D&I performance. We’re also seeing higher supplier diversity, which means procuring from businesses that are at least 51% owned and operated by underrepresented groups. 

#2: Pay equity

Pay equity is compensating employees who have similar job functions with comparably equal pay, regardless of their gender, race, ethnicity, or status. Pay equity is a growing area of workplace ESG, with 66% of companies surveyed by Payscale saying a pay equity analysis is planned for 2022, up 20% from 2021. We’ve also noticed numerous organizations prioritizing pay equity as part of their D&I efforts.

Pay equity champions social responsibility and is beneficial to a business’ bottom line. Employers who implement fair pay policies can expect a boost in productivity and morale, reduced turnover, a bigger talent pool, and fewer regulation issues.

Woman holding a meeting with three colleagues

#3: Gender balancing

What is gender balancing? Gender balancing is when companies provide equal opportunities to employees despite their gender. McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace report found that even if a company’s entry-level workforce is half women and half men, the proportion of women drops slightly at every level—to the point where women only account for 38% of managers, 33% of directors, 28% of senior vice presidents, and 21% of C-suite executives.

To fix gender disparity in promotions, organizations are setting gender balancing goals. For example, one business has the goal of women comprising 50% of managers within the next 10 years, up from the current 35%. By setting specific targets as part of their ESG strategy, companies hold themselves accountable to make progress towards gender equality.

#4: Employee well-being and benefits

Employee expectations of company benefits have evolved in recent years. Employers can’t get ahead by offering the bare minimum anymore—they need upgraded benefits to remain competitive and keep employees satisfied and engaged.

Improved benefits introduced this year include mental health resources, lifestyle improvement programs, financial wellness training, tuition reimbursement, childcare options, unlimited time off, flexible scheduling, remote working, student loan assistance, travel discounts, scholarship programs, employee relief funds, and more.

#5: Training and development

Employees want additional development opportunities, reports SHRM. 68% of workers say they’d stay with their employer throughout their career if they had upskilling opportunities, and 49% want to expand their skills but don’t know where to begin.

Employers are taking note and offering enhanced training opportunities including language classes, financial and digital literacy, workforce certifications, leadership development, new job skills, safety training courses, coaching, mentorship programs, bias prevention, and more.

We can help with your workplace ESG initiatives

Analyzing performance and setting goals to improve workforce ESG initiatives can be overwhelming, but Catena Solutions is here to help. We specialize in business transformation and data & analytics solutions to bring companies up to speed on workplace ESG strategies. Get in touch to learn more.

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