Adnams tackles racism to make the hospitality industry more diverse

Adnams Open to Everyone, Closed to Racism

Adnams have spoken about their their partnership with Open to Everyone, Closed to Racism - Credit: Anthony Cullen

A leading Suffolk company has taken a strong stand against racism - helping employees to confront prejudice constructively.

Brewers Adnams decided to take a public stance on racism by supporting Open to Everyone, Closed to Racism (OECR).

OECR was set up to help businesses speak out against racism and educate their teams and customers.

The Southwold business, which employ 525 staff across 27 sites with turnover of £51m, is situated in a non-diverse part of the UK but still decided to take action. 

Adnams director of culture and performance, Sadie Lofthouse said: “It was clear we could speak up on our anti-racism stance, so when we were approached by OECR with a really simple way to do so, it really helped us to be more proactive.”

OECR gave Adnams the resources to create a deeper understanding of racism and educate stakeholders, employees, customers, suppliers, shareholders and the local community with greater confidence.

The company started by holding a series of ‘Diversity Conversations’ with every employee, allowing a forum for open and honest conversations.

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The series helped employees understand some of the myths about racism, enabled prejudice to be confronted constructively and created curiosity about a topic people can feel nervous about addressing.

Ms Lofthouse said “there were times that were ‘uncomfortable’ but on the whole the feedback from the team was very positive”.

A very small number of customers complained about Adnams making its voice heard on the issue, but this was insignificant compared to the support from customers and staff.

Adnams' employees have spoken of the pride felt in wearing the OECR badges and when explaining to customers why they were wearing them.

Adnams is also collecting data and monitoring diversity to be able to tangibly show the positive changes in the business.

Ms Lofthouse said: "We intend to keep the momentum going in every way possible. The important thing is that it’s not seen as an HR initiative that comes and goes and is taken off the shelf again in a few years and dusted down.

"This runs through all aspects of the business; recruitment, induction, training, well-being, L&D - it has to be a thread that runs through all that we do."