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Can Kraft Heinz cut the mustard on diversity and inclusion goals?

Kraft Heinz leadership says its inclusive hiring practices, employee training and company-wide transparency are ingredients for success. At the start of Q4 2021, the Kraft Heinz Company released its ESG report and, to “enhance its long-standing commitment to a diverse and inclusive culture and workforce,” published its 2025 Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Aspirations as well. 

The company announced that it is “aspiring to foster a culture in which all employees from all backgrounds truly feel included and a sense of belonging at Kraft Heinz.” Goals include achieving gender and demographic parity in management positions across KHC’s global operations by 2025, with people of color representing 30% of its salaried U.S. employees — an increase of 6% on today’s numbers.

Pamay Bassey, KHC’s chief learning and diversity officer, told HR Dive via email that KHC has long prioritized diversity, inclusion and belonging, but 2020 catalyzed the company into action. “We have built a solid foundation focused on community, education and awareness over the past five years,” she said. “We are building upon those accomplishments to tackle issues of representation, accountability, and disclosure and transparency.” 

She added that KHC is actively working to interrupt bias and attract diverse candidates that better reflect the communities where the food company does business. In the Q&A below, Bassey shared more about the origin of KHC’s 2025 aspirations, and how the company will realize these goals.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. 

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HR DIVE: What was the driving force behind KHC’s 2025 Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Aspirations? Is this the first time KHC had made DIB intentions internally and externally available?

Pamay Bassey: 2020 was a year that amplified our focus on diversity, inclusion and belonging. We expanded our company values to affirm “we demand diversity.” We also delivered on our 10 commitments to racial equity and social justice in the U.S. — including the launch of our first Global Inclusion Council, chaired by our CEO, Miguel Patricio.

The council comprises executive leadership from across the company and members of our board of directors. The Council created and approved our first diversity, inclusion and belonging aspirations. 

We communicated them internally before sharing them externally — so we could first solicit feedback from our employees, and begin creating strategies and initiatives to move us towards those aspirations.

To ensure that we are making continued progress, we have developed a multi-year diversity, inclusion and belonging strategy which includes four focus areas: representation, communication and learning, culture and communities.

As an HR Dive reporter who often covers gender and management for HR Dive, my interest was piqued when I read that KHC “[aims] to achieve gender parity within management positions globally by 2025, which means increasing the representation of women in management from 37% to 50%.” What steps will KHC take to realize a 13% increase of women managers? Through what behaviors or processes has KHC failed to advance women at the same rate as men?

As part of our efforts, we frequently monitor hiring, promotion, performance review and turnover trends by leveraging our dashboards and data scientists to identify disparities. We also track attendance in our DIB training and learning sessions — to ensure that the content is relevant, and fostering inclusion and belonging. 

To further the development of women throughout the organization, we launched The WE Network: a six-month, global leadership accelerator at the associate director level. The 2020 and 2021 cohorts included 30 and 31 women, respectively, and we look forward to seeing programs like this continue.

Another one of our values is “we dare to do better every day” and this reflects our commitment to continuous improvement. 

We continue to expand our candidate talent pools to diversify traditionally homogeneous functions within the company. This requires investment in STEM programs and other talent pipeline building programs that attract women to careers in our industry and at Kraft Heinz. 

We are also investing in the expansion of applications that de-bias our job descriptions across the company. These investments, both short- and long-term, are yielding positive results.

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What new approaches to recruiting will KHC adopt to ensure demographic parity among salaried employees? 

As part of our effort to strengthen our diverse hiring practices, we are thrilled with our partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the U.S. As just one example, we partnered with Clark Atlanta University (through the CEO Academy) to work with more than 100 juniors and seniors on networking, LinkedIn best practices and learning about a day in the life of a marketer. Kraft Heinz employees from across the organization participated in six class sessions throughout the winter 2020 term. 

In Canada, we introduced [nameless] resume reviews, bias interruption training and scanning our job descriptions through a gender bias decoder.

Outside of North America, we are standardizing the interview questionnaires and continue to invest in debiasing our job descriptions. In certain regions, we have also strengthened our partnerships with associations that represent talent from underrepresented backgrounds.

What advice do you have for companies looking to solidify and publish their own DIB aspirations?

We have been expanding the team of leaders that is dedicated to spearheading our DIB strategies and plans. Today, DIB practitioners are integrated across our global footprint. 

The two most recent additions are the chief learning and diversity officer role [held by Bassey] and the head of global diversity, inclusion and belonging role [held by Gerardo Guerrero], established in October 2020 and February 2021, respectively. To develop and execute our strategic initiatives, [we] partner with a host of leaders in each of our zones as well as the Global Inclusion Council.

Pilot programs and then scale what is working. Shortly after the Kraft Heinz merger in 2015, BRGs were launched in the U.S. to support underrepresented groups. These voluntary, employee-led groups immediately built community and fostered belonging. 

The platform also created the opportunity for leadership to directly engage with the BRGs in two-way dialogue. Business resource groups expanded across Canada and also resonated outside of North Americato over 30 countries. In 2020, more employees engaged in local chapters and started initiatives in their respective locations. The number of BRGs and membership have consistently risen year-over-year, setting the momentum for a continued roll-out across the globe in the years to come.

Our Global Inclusion Council, chaired by our CEO Miguel Patricio, creates accountability for results, and provides governance, oversight, and reporting on diversity efforts and initiatives. The council is also a critical driver in establishing priorities, managing integrated and cross-functional initiatives, and thoughtfully considering how to fully live our company values.

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