traditional indian sweets on concrete background flat lay


A Recipe for Inclusivity: Putting the “S” in ESG

Creating an inclusive workplace environment that showcases diversity often starts with breaking bread together. Implement an on-site food program that builds community through shared cultural experiences.

Tim Geoghegan

Director of Sales Enablement

The human story is one of movement and transition. We seek and settle in new lands and carry with us the traditions of our former home. Yet long after the native tongue of our predecessors has faded, we still remember the food. Is there a pot roast better than your Nana’s or a baked ziti better than your Nonna’s? While often handwritten and stained by years of nearby food preparation, the family recipe remains a long-cherished heirloom.

A Focus on Variety and Inclusivity

Workplace food programs are uniquely qualified to serve as ambassadors for inclusivity, offering new culinary experiences in a safe space the café and inspiring questions and comments that can open minds. For a global banking client with its North American headquarters in Midtown Manhattan and a suburban campus in Northern New Jersey, chef-crafted dishes from a wide range of cuisines conjure familial connections for holidays and memorial events.

For example, during the Indian holiday festival known as Diwali, the bank hosts a three-day celebration that incorporates elements of traditional activities such as communal dancing, diya lamp decorating, and temporary henna tattoos. Executive Chef Mark strives for authenticity in these celebratory menus, which feature scratch-made kala chana chaat (black chickpea salad) served with whole-wheat naan bread cooked in the café’s tandoor oven. As the saying goes, They come for the dancing, they stay for the food.

The ISS Guckenheimer culinary team creates similarly relevant menu items for other events throughout the year. For the Muslim Eid holiday, the team prepares fattoush salad (made with pita) and muhammara, a walnut and red pepper dip, for the café’s offering. During Black History Month, the team serves fufu with creole sauce. Over time, the welcoming café space has become a place for greater understanding and sharing, one plate at a time

Critical for Workplace Culture

The smells and tastes of home wherever that ancestral home may be create a shared experience across the multitude of ethnicities that make up the contemporary workforce. Through an on-site program featuring iconic foods that embrace international flavors, client organizations can cultivate an inclusive space where employees feel respected and have the agency to bring their complete selves to work.

On-site food programs that highlight traditional cuisines showcase diversity. This literal breaking of bread provides a venue for a greater sense of cultural empathy and inclusivity among the staff. Organizations that promote these programs create a workplace environment where individuals from all backgrounds feel valued and recognized for their contributions.

These on-site experiences are more than just “nice-to-have.” The ability to embrace and share cultures is a valid component of the “S” portion of ESG reporting. While the reporting metrics for “Social” may present more challenges than the “Environmental” component, they share equal importance as we strive to develop spaces where people can be their best. The program described above helps drive community engagement and foster a more connected workforce

Take a look at your current food program. Is it reflective of your employee base? Does it strive for inclusivity of global tastes and traditions? If it does, you are in good company and making a difference. If it does not, challenge your service provider to reevaluate their programming and provide options that better represent the wants and needs of workers.

about the author

Tim Geoghegan

Director of Sales Enablement