Compass Group UK & Ireland claims to have become the first company in the industry to tackle the shortage in female chefs through a dedicated campaign.
The company has made a commitment to have female chefs forming 50% of its workforce by 2020 through a new ‘Women in Food’ programme.
Compass is one of the UK’s largest private employers with approximately 60,000 employees. The company currently employs 4393 chefs, of which 1537 (35%) are female.
This already exceeds the industry average of 18.5%, it claims.
Inflexible and long working hours in the traditional restaurant sector has made it a challenging career choice for women who wish to juggle a family life. However, contract catering offers an alternative with the ability to work shifts in a variety of fields, from schools to business and in healthcare and defence, according to Compass.
Compass is seeking to do more in a bid to attain gender equality in a male dominated industry through making an investment in learning and development for female chefs that currently work for the company and those who will be recruited.
The company will also be reviewing working practices, to identify areas where shift work and flexible working hours are able to be introduced and further enhanced opportunities for development from entry level through to senior roles.
Dennis Hogan, managing director for Compass Group UK & Ireland, concluded: “We are delighted to have launched a scheme that is actively looking to support female chefs with the right opportunities, development and training. The “Women in Food” programme highlights our commitment to increasing the number of female chefs we employ in the business by a further 15%, ensuring by 2020 we have a 50/50 split of male and female chefs.
“We have worked hard to establish the reasons that are discouraging woman from becoming chefs or continuing their chef career and hope by recognising and understanding the issues, that through the development of the Women in Food programme, we are now able to break down these barriers.”
A “Women in Food” Board has been set up, which will be responsible for the roll out of the programme and monitor its outputs. Members of the board include key personnel from Compass Group UK and Ireland: Chair, Fiona Ryland, HR director and executive board member; co-chair Matt Gillison, chief procurement officer at Foodbuy; Melanie Hayes, resourcing and development director and Jeremy Ford, culinary director at Restaurant Associates.
The launch of the “Women in Food” programme follows on from Compass Group UK & Ireland’s commitment to building the number of Compass apprentices to 1,500 by the end of 2017.