In 2021, Bidvest Noonan launched its very own Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Council, with the aim of developing a more diverse workforce and a more inclusive workplace to make its teams stronger and more creative. The council is made up of people from every corner of its business, each with their own unique background.
The business recently caught up with Marina Goncalves, the IOI Chairperson of the ED&I council. In discussion, Marina talks about the journey the ED&I council has been on so far, the council’s latest achievements and initiatives, as well as some brief plans for the year ahead.
Tell us why the Bidvest Noonan ED&I council was formed?
We established our ED&I Council to bring colleagues together from across our business from different backgrounds but with one shared goal, to create a more diverse workforce and a more inclusive workplace. We want to ensure that inclusion is part of our culture. We are making tremendous strides to achieve this. We respect each other, we care for each other, and we communicate with each other.
What has the council achieved so far?
The council has worked hard to build a foundation, setting plans and targets for the short, medium, and long term. We were recently awarded the Bronze Diversity Mark; a credit to the hard work of everyone involved with the council. I am very proud to lead the council and to have played my part in laying these foundations. It has undoubtedly made Bidvest Noonan an even more diverse and inclusive place to work. We have exciting initiatives in motion to further help us on our journey.
Tell us more about these exciting initiatives.
We have just embarked on a new ED&I Champions programme. The main purpose of this initiative is to embed ‘ED&I champions’ across our sites. These nominated champions will be trained and supported by a member of the ED&I council. Their role is to raise awareness and encourage site-based activity and engagement around ED&I. The council has developed and provided useful toolkits for the champions to use. These toolkits include ED&I event calendars, toolbox talk tips, policies, and so much more.
We will also continue to use our people data to measure the impact of our activity and to shape our future endeavours. We believe in equal opportunity for all. ED&I features on the agenda of our Group Executive Meetings, Country Executive Meetings, and Business Unit Meetings.
What other methods are the council using to improve our commitment to ED&I?
As a council we are always open to learning, seeking ways to improve policies and strategies to make real change. At a recent council meeting, an external trainer was invited to discuss the topic of “Inclusion for All”. This training focussed on different types of bias and how to be more conscious when we are making decisions. We got some fantastic insights and enjoyed some anonymous activities to encourage engagement. A key takeaway from the training is that it is important to listen to what colleagues have to say and understand how they are experiencing the culture within Bidvest Noonan.
What is planned for the year ahead?
We are excited for the year ahead and the plans we have to continue this journey. We will keep our strategy a living document, one that will continue to evolve. We plan to further improve gender balance across leadership and under-represented roles, and raise awareness across the business around LGBTQI+, disability, age, social mobility, and ethnicity.