As they say, Diversity is being invited to the party; Inclusion is being asked to dance.
COOK is an extraordinary food company from Kent and are “very, very fussy” about the quality of their ingredients. They are equally fussy about being people-first and creating a conducive workplace environment that has been widely recognized in the industry. Since 2013, COOK have been ranked as a Top 100 Best Company To Work For and last year in 2021, they were the #1 Best Food & Drink Company To Work For and received a special award for Giving Something Back in recognition of their efforts to feed vulnerable people during the pandemic.
We want to highlight COOK’s RAW Talent programme – RAW stands for Ready And Working – and it supports people who may have spent time in prison, have mental health challenges, addictions, or are without secure housing by finding work that is meaningful and sustainable to rebuild their lives.
COOK partners with their local men’s open prison by offering a full-time, permanent job, available both during and beyond their prison sentence. RAW Talents who passed the interview process can commute daily from the prison to COOK for paid work. COOK also works closely with a local church-run centre that feeds people daily and offers voluntary work. When the centre identifies people it believes are ready for paid work, COOK offers them a full-time position.
As leaders focus on Inclusion, Diversity and Belonging in organisations, the programmes must be about intent and commitment to drive transformative change. It’s not about quotas or performance justice. We cannot underestimate the sociocultural context of each market in terms of local attitudes, geographies & regulatory systems. To be effective, programmes should be translated for each market along with the right partnerships to upend inequities.
If you are wondering why a food business is helping to transform lives, well they see themselves as a people-business. They are driven by their purpose to build a business based on strong, caring relationships. Life is about relationships, and they believe people have the potential to be incredible when placed in the right environment.
At COOK, their core values are called Essential Ingredients and it is the operating system for everyone in how they engage within the business and community alike. Rene who emerged from RAW is a reminder that business can be a force for good on a deeply personal level, “There are people out there who want to change but are not given the opportunity, Since I have been here, I’ve come back alive.”