Our client was a nationally recognized non-profit organization with a goal to create effective solutions to address human resource challenges faced by the food industry. Canada’s food retail/wholesale sector, along with other sectors which have traditionally been major employers of young people, were facing difficulties in recruiting and retaining younger workers as a result of demographic changes and a reduction in the size of the Canada’s youth workforce. In an effort to address this challenge and to identify solutions, the organization commissioned research into the major demographic groups that represent viable alternatives to young workers, namely: recent immigrants, mature workers, Aboriginal people, persons with disabilities, and women in management positions.
Schroeder & Schroeder was commissioned to:
- Identify how 5 key equity groups (namely immigrants, Aboriginals, persons with disabilities, mature workers and women in management) were represented within the food retail/wholesale sector, broken down by region, size of operation, urban vs. rural, front line vs. management and part-time vs. full-time positions.
- Identify barriers encountered by the respective equity groups in maximizing their representation within the grocery retail/wholesale sector, through primary research with employees and managers.
- Conduct a literature review of existing research into overcoming barriers for the various equity groups, and identifying approaches that were relevant to the food retail/wholesale sector.
- Propose and validate a strategic equity plan to address barriers and enhance recruitment/advancement within each of the identified equity groups.
The main challenges we faced on this project included:
- Developing and appropriate framework for the analysis that could be used productively by the industry.
- Conducting extensive research, including literature reviews, interviews and focus groups with the available time lines and scope of work.
To address the requirements above, our consultants performed the following tasks:
- Reviewed existing Canadian literature and other on-line sources of information – examined the barriers to participation in employment faced by these equity groups, and the initiatives and examples of best practice in addressing these barriers, as drawn from other sectors. The literature review findings were used to inform the design of the topic guides and interview schedules for the qualitative research.
- Conducted a nationwide survey – organizations in the food retail/wholesale sector were surveyed to generate quantitative data on the representation of the specified equity groups within the industry, broken down by region, size of operation, urban vs. rural, front line vs. management and part-time vs. full-time positions. The survey was also used to collect additional quantifiable information on the views of industry managers regarding the barriers to recruitment of the equity groups.
- Conducted interviews and focus groups across the country – employees representing the various equity groups and managers within the sector were interviewed to collect in-depth qualitative data relating to the issues pertaining to the participation of equity groups within the food retail/wholesale sector; views on the barriers to recruitment and advancement within the industry of these groups, and their relative importance, and existing organizational initiatives designed to overcome these barriers.
- Analyzed key findings – identified challenges and potential actions which might be adopted to increase the participation of equity groups.
- Developed a recommended strategic equity plan – developed an integrated summary of all stages of the research and proposed actions to address the barriers to participation and advancement of equity groups within the food retail/wholesale sector.
Through the research conducted, Schroeder & Schroeder was able to provide:
- Information on how 5 key equity groups (namely immigrants, Aboriginals, persons with disabilities, mature workers and women in management) are currently represented within the food retail/wholesale sector.
- A conceptual framework that cross-classified the equity groups according to the barriers to participation in employment that they are known to experience, both generally and in relation to the food retail and wholesale sector.
- Information on barriers encountered by these respective equity groups in maximizing their representation within the food retail/wholesale sector.
- Potential approaches for overcoming barriers for these various equity groups that are relevant to the food retail/wholesale sector.
- A proposed and validated strategic approach for addressing barriers and enhancing recruitment/advancement within each of the identified equity groups.
At the conclusion of the project all the objectives had been achieved, and the client was highly satisfied with the deliverables and the value added by Schroeder & Schroeder Inc.