Indicators of inclusive practices added to job adverts

To support candidates to find organisations centring diversity and inclusion, Roots to Work has added three new indicators to listings on the sustainable food jobs platform. 

Tuesday 26 March 2024

 A clenched fist painted in diverse colours.. Copyright: Lightspring | shutterstock

A clenched fist painted in diverse colours.. Copyright: Lightspring | shutterstock

As the home of sustainable food jobs in the UK, Roots to Work is committed to advertising jobs that are good for the planet and for the people that do the jobs. We believe a sustainable organisation will not only proactively minimise the environmental and social impacts of their work, but also create positive outcomes, including building equity and wellbeing in their workforce.

By centreing fairness and equity, organisations can create  inclusive and welcoming workplaces, which help wellbeing, lower staff turnover and create diverse and impactful teams. 

Roots to Work has introduced three new tags that employers can add to their job listings: 

  • Living Wage employer
  • Ethnicity Confident scheme
  • Disability Confident scheme

These are visible at the top of any job listing where they've been tagged. But what do they mean? 

Living Wage employer 

A Living Wage is what citizens need to be able to meet their everyday needs. 

From 1 April 2024 the Government set the compulsory National Living Wage at £11.44 an hour for 21 year olds and older. There are incremental National Minimum Wage rates for employees aged 16-20 from £6.40 to £8.60. There is no London weighting on these rates. 

The Living Wage Foundation have calculated that the real Living Wage - based on the actual cost of living in the UK - as £12 (or £13.15 in London). Note, the Government recently rebranded from a minimum to a living wage to give the impression that they were aligned with the living wage approach however their figure is based on an incremental increase, not on the actual cost of living, which explains the difference in the rates. 

We hope that organisations are committed to paying the real Living Wage although we acknowledge that the sustainable food sector is made up of many small organisations that face financial pressures, therefore we advocate for at least the Government set Living Wage. After all, food cannot be sustainably produced and campaigns cannot be sustainably won if workers are not being paid fairly. 

Ethnicity Confident scheme

It's been well documented that the sustainable food movement has one of the least diverse workforces in the UK. The 2023 RACE Report found that only 6% of staff in environment and climate charities are people of colour or those from minoritsied or racialised backgrounds, compared to 15% across the whole UK workforce. Combine that with the entire agriculture sector having less than 3% non-white employees, and it's clear that our movement that straddles both of these sectors has a race problem.

An Ethnicity Confident scheme provides an enhanced chance of gaining a first-stage interview to candidates that meet the role’s criteria and who identify as from an underrepresented ethnic background.

Introducing an Ethnicity Confident scheme can increase the number of applicants from underrepresented ethnicities as it demonstrates a commiting to diversity and inclusion, and in turn it can build a more ethnically diverse team. 

Disability Confident scheme

The definition of disability by law is someone who has a 'physical or mental impairment' which 'has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities'.

Access to land in growing and agricultural spaces is a clear barrier to some people with physical impairments in the sustainable food movement. However, the lens must be widened to recognise the breadth of disability from long-term health conditions to how neurodivergent people can be supported and the range of workplaces people may be in. 

Similar to the scheme above, a Disability Confident scheme provides an enhanced chance of gaining a first-stage interview to candidates that meet the role’s criteria and who identify as disabled. Employers can register with the Government to become an official Disability Confident employer which has three levels from embedding inclusive recruitment practices to being a leader in this area that champions equality in your community. On Roots to Work job listings the question pertains to inclusive recruitment processes. 

Going beyond these tickboxes

Sustain introduced Ethnicity Confident and Disability Schemes in 2023 to all recruitment. It has increased the level of applicants that self-identify in those schemes that get to interview stage and who gain employment which is a great first step. 

It is vital that these schemes should never be a tickbox activity and that meaningful action happens across an organisation. There has to be adequate support in place for staff from underrepresented or marginalised backgrounds to ensure they feel supported and are able to thrive in an organisation. And paying a Living Wage should not be a bare minimum if more can be afforded and if staff are valued for their contribution and expertise. 

Some ways that organisations can move beyond these schemes include:

  • Providing comprehensive perks and benefits that enhance monetary pay 
  • Having staff wellbeing support such as employee assistance programmes
  • Putting anti-racism and anti-oppression at the centre of the organisation - a policy or statement can be a first step that then leads to embedded day-to-day action 
  • Having relevant policies on areas like inclusive events and flexible working 
  • Creating an inclusive culture that everyone shapes and can be a part of 
  • Supporting staff networks that represent people from underrepresented and marginalised groups 
  • Monitoring and reporting on progress in these areas 
  • Taking part in initiatives like the RACE Report or similar in your sector

This is by far not an exhaustive list and the schemes should be just the start. By setting out to be a sustainable food and farming organisation remember to centre your team - current and future - on that journey. 

The Roots to Work website will soon feature a range of resources to support employers to become more inclusive and equitable employers. 

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