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The Unseen Benefits of a Diverse Team: Reflections of a Reluctant Landlady

Updated: Apr 17

As part of our recruitment strategy, we decided to recruit from further afield.  At the time, good chefs were like gold dust, unemployment was extremely low in Salisbury, and we were struggling to fill our vacancies.  Our first overseas recruitment was a real bonus.  We had never interviewed on Zoom before (bear in mind this was 2012/3). We liked our chosen candidate though; Juan was a very experienced Spanish chef who had even cooked for the then Prince Charles.   After that, we regularly recruited from abroad, often using as a means to finding our candidates.  As a result, our teams were a vibrant mix of British, Russian, Polish, English, Spanish, South African and Latvian members, and I loved the depth that their diversity brought not only to the team but to our menus and to our staff meetings/activities.

Unity in Diversity

It was fascinating to see how individuals from different corners of the world could come together, united by a common purpose. This blend of cultures enriched our pubs' atmospheres and was instrumental in fostering a sense of belonging and acceptance among us all. Of course, sometimes they fell out, perhaps over some cultural misunderstanding or language barrier, but on the whole they were an amazing collective of people.

A Learning Experience

Each day was a learning experience. From the kitchen to the front of the house, our team members shared stories, recipes, and traditions from their homelands, offering insights into worlds many of us might never have had the chance to explore otherwise. From Portuguese-style Salted Cod at Christmas, Juan’s famous tapas or Mama’s home cooking (a Russian forthright woman who was both scary and loveable at the same time), this cultural exchange went beyond enriching our menu; it deepened our understanding and appreciation of each other.

A Warm, Welcoming Atmosphere

As well as recruiting different nationalities, we happily embraced diversity across the board, resulting in a real mix of people and characters.  We lost a couple of bigoted customers, who liked our pretty Spanish waitress but not being served by our gay assistant manager.  I felt very sad when a transgender group who met in our function room on a monthly basis told me that they used our venue because we were welcoming, and they were not treated very nicely elsewhere in the city.

Our Secret Ingredient

Across our venues, our diverse teams were our secret ingredients. They made us more than just pubs; we were places where cultures converged, friendships were formed, and everyone was welcome. We saw firsthand the beauty and strength that diversity brought, and we were proud to celebrate it every day.

Reaching out to other countries to solve our recruitment difficulties was a bold move that paid off, teaching us a valuable lesson applicable to any business: embracing diversity is not just about filling positions; it's about enriching your organization in ways you never imagined. It is a shame that diversity is still often just lip service, where many people are disadvantaged because of who they are. I hope the limitations of Brexit don't dilute the benefits of diverse teams in hospitality. After all, it's the differences among us that make us better, together.


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A picture of different people's hands under the words - the unseen benefits of a diverse team.

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