Recently, I had a notification from Linkedin telling me that’s someone wished to be included in my professional network, nothing new it happens every day. As you process that notification a panel appears that allows you to connect with likeminded professional’s and as being a chef, the algorithm’s set by Linkedin give me a huge selection, hundreds if not thousands of other chefs, and so you begin to connect with those you wish in your network.
I tend to pick professionals who are clearly in the UK,and who I can then share and spread the word about our amazing Union.After picking about 20-30 I suddenly realised the huge lack of Women chefs and and chefs of colour, especially in any form of seniority?
Sure there were a couple but most of the women were in other forms of the sector, Admin, Management HR etc and almost none Black or Asian female chefs?
This really shocked me. Is the algorithm set to my past acceptance or is it geared up to my profile of being a male white chef? both of course would be wrong. Or could it be that Women and Black/Asian chefs don’t use Linkedin or even the reality that those demographic groups are simply not being represented on Social media because of the lack of those groups actually not being in our industry in sufficient numbers.
This is certainly something we really ought to be considered more if indeed our industry is to recover from the pandemic and our employers seek to re-establish their business’s.
Shockingly, almost all of the UK’s Contract Caterers are white male driven. Most of their group Executive Chefs, Development Chefs, Area Executive Chefs and Head Chefs are nearly exclusively white males?
So too the numerous Chefs Associations and Craft oriented bodies that supposedly serve as ambassadors and leaders of our profession, promoting our culinary arts, again, mostly male, white dominated, and what about our college Lecturers, the teachers of our new young chefs, again the argument applies.Even in recruitment and on television the White Male Chef reigns supreme.
Is the lack of diversity the reason why we still have so many problems in our industry? Is the fact that it is still white male driven the very reason that recruitment was at an all-time low before January 2020. Almost every employer of every description was finding it increasingly difficult to find the right chefs. Temporary Recruitment constantly relied upon and the situation was becoming so acute that it even began to affect the higher levels of our profession, including Michelin starred establishments.Whilst the” White Male Club” still exists in professional cookery, how can we ever hope to move forward?
So, as we hopefully progress towards the re-opening of our business’s isn’t it time to reflect upon just how diverse we should all be in our approach to recruitment and begin to embrace the fact that diversity can and does bring a whole new set of dynamics to our profession and our business, and that the next time we do recruit then we begin to find those women, and BAME chefs that can bring that extra “special ingredient” to our brigades.