Mars Food’s Ben’s Original™ brand launches a new scholarship programme – the Seat at the Table™ Fund – in the UK to help support access to skills building and mentorship for Black hospitality workers so they can further their careers in the food industry.
The Ben’s Original™ Seat at the Table™ fund – which was first established in the U.S. in 2020 – launches in the UK in partnership with Be Inclusive Hospitality. The programme aims to advance diversity in the food industry by addressing racial inequality in access to opportunities. Together with education provider Leiths School of Food and Wine, the programme will offer 15 funded places on selected courses offered by the famous culinary institution.
The courses range from shorter specialised courses that run over a couple of days – Food Styling and Knife Skills – to longer accredited professional courses which run over a 10-week period – Chefs Skills, Plant Based Essential Cooking and Nutrition in Culinary Practice. Successful candidates will also be offered three hours of mentorship over the course of three months via Be Inclusive Hospitality’s proven scheme to provide support, knowledge sharing and personal development.
This program is open to applicants who identify as Black working in operational roles in UK hospitality (those involved in the day-to-day running of the operation such as Chefs, front of house or kitchen staff) who are looking to further their careers in the food industry.
While 17% of UK hospitality workers are from ethnically diverse backgrounds, the majority are working in lower paid jobs. This is especially true when it comes to Black hospitality workers who are one of the groups least likely to be in the highest paid roles, and second most likely to be in lower paid roles. Black hospitality workers are also least likely to have access to opportunities that would support career progression such as a coach, sponsor, development scheme or qualification. This data points to something systemically inequitable, and has informed our understanding of where we should focus to help remove barriers.
“Everyone deserves equal access to opportunities so we can all develop, progress and succeed in a career we love. However, sadly there are still barriers that exist within society that mean this isn’t always the case for everyone. Within the UK hospitality industry, data shows that Black workers are underrepresented particularly in the highest paid roles and through our Ben’s Original™ Seat at the Table™ Fund we hope to create more equitable opportunities to help change that”, said Dave Dusangh, Regional President Mars Food Europe. “We are grateful for the partnership with Be Inclusive Hospitality and Leiths School of Food and Wine in helping us to bring this programme to life as the next step in delivering on our brand’s purpose – to create opportunities that offer everyone a seat at the table.”
The selected courses are aimed at helping those who aspire to careers such as becoming a professional /private chef or running their own food business. Ben’s Original™ is investing £50,000 in this first year of the programme which will run until early 2023.
Lorraine Copes, CEO Be Inclusive Hospitality, added, “I am thrilled to be partnering on this initiative, as it perfectly aligns to our mission to accelerate race equity within the industry. It has long been my ambition to collaborate with brands whose values align with ours, and we have found this in this partnership with Ben’s Original. What excites me most about delivering an initiative with a clear aim for impact is that we will be able to track and celebrate the journeys of the successful applicants for years to come.”
Camilla Schneideman, Managing Director Leiths, follows on, “Working with Be Inclusive Hospitality and Ben’s Original is a great fit for Leiths. Over the years we have learned that training and qualifications are the key to unlocking exciting new careers, not only because of the skills you learn but also because of the confidence that comes with knowing that you are qualified for the job. Students who join Leiths consistently tell us that the inclusive atmosphere in the school allows them to be themselves. There is no ‘one size fits all’ career in the food industry, and our mission is to help our students find the path that fits their aspirations and lifestyle. We look forward to supporting the recipients of these courses to develop their careers in innovative and creative ways.”
Applicants will need to have two years of experience working in hospitality and as part of the application process will be asked how this opportunity will help them to further their career ambition. Applicants will need to provide a written answer of 300 words about this.
Applications will close on 30 September 2022. Successful applicants will be chosen by a cross-organisation panel (made up of Mars Food, Leiths and Be Inclusive Hospitality) with finalists announced by the end of October. The classes will take place through to the end of the year and into early 2023.
To find out more, and to apply, visit https://uk.bensoriginal.com/seatatthetablefund