The food industry may not immediately spring to mind as an area where women are under-represented – conversations about women in the workplace today are more likely to focus on getting women out of the kitchen, rather than into it. However, as a food service business, we know better than most the opportunities a career in food can open up. We also notice more than most the relative lack of women in our industry.
There is no doubt that women are talented chefs, but they are sadly under-represented as professional chefs in the UK – a fact starkly highlighted in the most recent series of MasterChef: The Professionals, where all ten of the final contestants were male.
While the BBC was criticised for this, the fact remains that only 18.5% of the UK’s chefs are female, compared to 56.5% of HR Directors, 60% of PR professionals and 74% of social workers.
At Compass Group, we want to change that, and have set ourselves the challenge of getting more women into the kitchen – but in a way that will boost their development, give them the skills and resources to have a successful career in food, and ultimately help to redress the gender imbalance that currently exists in the industry.
We really “get” the value of female chefs. So do our clients, who often specifically request female chefs in recognition of the contribution they make to their workforce.
Women already make up 36% of our chef workforce – that’s almost twice the national average. However, we know we can do more to attract talented women and ensure they are not hindered from pursuing a career in food by barriers that can stand in their way.
That is why we have launched our Women in Food programme – our commitment that by 2020, 50% of the chefs we employ will be female. We are also delivering significant investment into training and developing female chefs, and carrying out a review of our working practices to identify how these can better support our workforce. We have also set up a Women in Food Board, which will be responsible for rolling out the programme and monitoring its outputs.
To find out more about our programme, please contact Genevieve Bach, Head of Public Policy at Compass Group UK & Ireland – email@example.com.
 ONS, Employment by Occupation April-June 2015, August 2015