A group of pupils from Fern Hill School in Farmborough, got to experience first-hand what a career in a purpose-driven food company would be like, after spending a day at the offices of Ecotone UK in the Meadows Business Park, Camberley.
Known for its household brands; Clipper Teas, Whole Earth, Kallo and Mrs Crimble’s, Ecotone UK, is part of the Future Makers programme with MyBigCareer – a charity focused on opening up opportunities to disadvantaged young people and providing inspirational moments to inspire their future career path.
During their time with the natural and organic food company, 24 Fern Hill pupils heard from employees within Ecotone about their varied job roles and the path they took to get there. They also learnt about the company’s mission to create food that protects and grows biodiversity.
Learning about the importance of biodiversity, the 14-15 year olds split into groups and got stuck in with activities such as making bug hotels to encourage biodiversity and wildlife conservation around the business park.
The visit from Fern Hill coincided with Ecotone’s company ‘Bio-diversity Day’ which is dedicated to nurturing the ecosystem of its workforce. It celebrated the racial, cultural, social and gender diversity of Ecotone’s internal team and invited employees to address unconscious bias and prejudice in their everyday lives.
The day is part of Ecotone’s ‘I’m In’ initiative, a company-wide pledge to always encourage, include and value others, regardless of their differences.
It was wonderful to be joined by the pupils at Fern Hill and to give them the opportunity to learn about the different roles within a food company to help inspire their future career choices. It’s also so important to teach people from a young age about the impact of food production and farming on the planet. Our Bio-Diversity Day is just one of the ways in which we are striving to become a truly inclusive company and build on our B-Corp principles to be a force for good.
During Bio-Diversity Day, authors of ‘Belonging’, Sue Unerman, Kathryn Jacob and Mark Edwards, spoke to Ecotone UK’s workforce about the importance of education and allyship when tackling discrimination and maintaining diversity, inclusion and equality in the workplace.
It’s always great to see a business that has a firm commitment to becoming truly inclusive and making proactive steps to encourage all employees across the business to address unconscious bias and prejudice. We hope that by speaking directly to Ecotone’s team on their Bio-Diversity Day that we got them thinking about what action they would take if they recognised prejudice in themselves or their colleagues and the importance of a more diverse work culture.
MyBigCareer works with schools like Fern Hill to give pupils early experience of workplaces like Ecotone UK.
Our work with companies like Ecotone opens up workplace opportunities for teenagers from disadvantaged backgrounds. Insight Days like today can open their eyes to jobs they didn't know existed and can sow the seed that inspires them to follow a particular career path. The time spent with Ecotone UK was truly inspiring and the team were fantastic in sharing their own experiences with the pupils.
Ecotone UK signed up to be a Future Maker with MyBigCareer in July this year. The company will continue to work closely with the organisation to open up opportunities and support young people to break through the barriers to social mobility.
Earlier this year, Ecotone UK was certified as a Great Place to Work - the highest recognition for the quality of the work environment. It scored most positively on credibility, fairness, respect, pride and camaraderie.
Ecotone UK (formerly Wessanen UK) is a natural and organic food company, with pioneering food brands in expanding market segments, including:
● The UK’s first Fairtrade tea company, Clipper Teas, which makes natural, fair and delicious hot beverages and created the world’s first fully biodegradable, non-GM and unbleached tea bag;
● Whole Earth, the UK’s no.1 peanut butter brand and manufacturer of natural and organic spreads, cereals and drinks, and
● Kallø makes market-leading, organic rice, corn and veggie cakes, as well as the UK’s fastest-growing range of stocks and gravies;
● Mrs Crimble’s, the gloriously gluten-free cake brand that makes delicious baked goods for all to enjoy.
Ecotone UK has been B Corp certified since 2018 and champions its mission, ‘Food for Biodiversity’, through a commitment to protecting the living planet for current and future generations. It is focused on providing food that is good for people and the planet and conducts its business in a sustainable way.
These principles are channelled through its involvement with its subsidiaries, and the brand is accredited by or a member of a range of industry bodies and associations including; B Corp, Fairtrade Foundation; Soil Association; UK Tea & Infusions Association, and the Organic Trade Board.
MyBigCareer is a charity on a mission to Connect, Inspire and Make Change for disadvantaged young people aged 13-18, helping them break through the barriers to social mobility.
● We support schools serving the UK’s most disadvantaged communities struggling to provide Career Education, Information, Advice and Guidance (CEIAG) due to lack of resources and knowledge.
● High quality CEIAG is proven to inspire young people from an early age and challenge stereotypes relating to gender, class or ethnicity - but 82% of teachers don’t have sufficient information to be confident giving careers advice.
● Working with schools with high proportions of pupils receiving free school meals, based in communities of high deprivation, MyBigCareer supports thousands of young people every year with 1:1 careers advice sessions, employer Insight Days and inspirational workshops, and offers personalised mentoring for job and university applications.
The pandemic has devastated the employment prospects of the students MyBigCareer supports. The charity is responding by bringing together schools, businesses and volunteers to provide the career guidance, connections and access to job opportunities that under-represented young people desperately need.
MyBigCareer Future Makers is an outcome-focused initiative with leading employers to harness the skills of employee volunteers as Career Coaches, open up workplace experiences and connections, and provide the charity with sustainable funding to help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds achieve the future they deserve.