Inside Kraft Heinz’s
employee experience journey

In this myGrapevine magazine exclusive, Pamay Bassey, Chief Learning and Diversity Officer at The Kraft Heinz Company explains why inclusion, community and development are the keys to a holistic employee engagement experience...

Words by Kieran Howells

Pamay Bassey,

Chief Learning and Diversity Officer

At The Kraft Heinz Company – the globally-renowned parent company of popular food brands such as Heinz, Kool Aid, Philadelphia and Grey Poupon – the company’s entire employee experience proposition is underpinned by one key phrase: ‘People with purpose’. This, according to Pamay Bassey, the Chief Learning and Diversity Officer at The Kraft Heinz Company, means inviting every one of the company’s 38,000+ global employees to play an active role in the firm’s journey, and ‘bring its values to life’ across everything that it does.

However, whilst this overarching proposition defines how Bassey and the people team manage the experience of Kraft Heinz’s employees, in practice, she told myGrapevine magazine that this requires workers to not only feel that they belong in their organisation, but also that they’re celebrated for being themselves, regardless of their differences. In essence, creating a good experience for its people means that Kraft Heinz’s people team must constantly manage a series of defining initiatives – several of which are inclusion and personal development.

We’re on a journey, and it’s important to maintain a sense of urgency, passion, and accountability

Inclusion and belonging in the people experience

According to Bassey, the firm’s renewed emphasis on inclusion and belonging as being a core part of its people experience proposition began in 2015, shortly after the merger that brought the until-then separate Kraft and Heinz companies together as one. This merger gave its people team the chance of a clean slate, on which to build new policies and resources for its newly-unified employee base.  

As part of this, the company launched its Business Resource Groups (BRGs) in the US to support under-represented groups, which it believed would improve the representation and therefore experience of these groups in the workplace. According to Bassey, these voluntary, employee-led groups immediately strengthened Kraft Heinz’s community and fostered a sense that each individual was important to the organisation’s culture for the differences in experience that they contributed.


Following the success of the company’s BRGs, which focus on areas such as gender and LGBT+ representation, the initiative was also translated across several other international hubs, which includes over 30 countries. In 2020, more employees engaged in local regions and started initiatives in their respective locations, and ultimately, BRG membership rose in 2020 to over 250 employees, setting the foundation for a continued roll-out across the globe in the years to come.

Bassey told myGrapevine magazine: “I often say that diversity is a fact, inclusion is practice, and belonging is an outcome,” reflecting on the success of the BRG campaign and how it improved the experiences of Kraft Heinz’s employees. “The truth is we all experience diversity as fact every day. It is up to each of us to make the powerful choice to create an inclusion practice – in our lives, in our communities, and in our organisations,” she added.

Why are inclusion and development pivotal to good employee experience?

It should go without saying that the goal in managing employee experience is to ensure that this experience is positive and engaging.

But how can HR do this?

By drilling down into the areas that make the biggest difference to employee experience.

According to data from Deloitte, 92% of workers believe this means celebrating them as individuals and 61% believe it means ensuring that they have a sense of belonging.

In addition, 95% of employees believe that they become disengaged when they have no clear paths for career development.

So, this data clearly points to both inclusion and development being pivotal elements of any good employee experience strategy.

‘The Heart of Kraft Heinz’

Whilst Kraft Heinz’s employee experience is shaped by the journey workers take within the company, this journey actually starts before prospective candidates are even offered the job. In fact, this experience starts with a conscious effort to ensure that the demographics within the company aren’t exclusionary. For example, when seeking new candidates, the company implements measures to ensure that it’s not falling foul of unconscious bias by implementing what it calls ‘smart checks and controls’ to actively counter biases. After all, Glassdoor data tells us that 67% of jobseekers believe a diverse workforce is pivotal in their considerations when considering a company to work for.

Kraft Heinz also chose to increase its commitment to ensuring that its internal structures and practices are as unbiased as possible in 2019, with the roll-out of training, focused on recognising and interrupting bias. According to Bassey, this continued the conversation around the experiences of the company’s diverse workforce, and allowed senior leadership to continue to learn how to lead more inclusively to improve this. To ensure that the experience of staff lived up to the values of inclusivity that this new training provided, the company created a programme called ‘The Heart of Kraft Heinz’.

Bassey explained that being open about the biases that can hinder internal cultures has improved the experiences of employees who otherwise may have felt misrepresented: “We give employees a chance to discuss topics related to inclusion and belonging – and learn from each other. Other training and learning initiatives focus on allyship, and other skills necessary to support the participation in and creation of an inclusive workplace,” adding that Kraft Heinz’s communities are “all practicing building trust across difference. And we know that, if we commit to practicing those things – then belonging is the outcome.”

Diversity is a fact, inclusion is practice, and belonging is an outcome

Tech’s role in people development

Of course, the dawn of the coronavirus pandemic and the move to remote working drastically altered the experiences of employees across the globe. Employee experience has undoubtedly changed; companies are far more digital-centric with comms and learning, many companies are seeing higher turnover and wellbeing is far higher on the C-Suite agenda, and those who have understood how to bridge the gap in culture, inclusion and development digitally, have reaped the rewards. This notion is supported by Deloitte data from late 2020, which found that 75% of workers believe, when their companies have adopted the right tech, their experience as an employee has actually improved, with 55% feeling more productive and 62% believing that their wellbeing has not suffered as a result.

For Kraft Heinz, the adoption of the right technology is now a huge part of its employee experience within career and skills development – something that the company saw as an asset before the coronavirus crisis hit. Bassey said that Kraft Heinz has successfully promoted a ‘culture of continuous learning, bold creativity, and intellectual curiosity’. “This empowers employees to execute with excellence in their current role, accelerate their learning curve and grow a great career,” she said. The company’s aim is not just to manage the employee experience and support career development within Kraft Heinz, but also to help them in building their ‘career journeys’, whether this is within the company or not. It does this through the Kraft Heinz corporate university, known as Ownerversity.

According to Bassey, the academy structure aids in nurturing a continuous culture of learning and gives each employee tools to contribute to the company as a whole. “Our Ownerversity learning experiences include opportunities for employees to learn more about inclusion and belonging, and we deliver a multitude of offerings throughout the year aimed at empowering employees, developing inclusive leaders, interrupting bias across the employee experience, and fostering inclusion and belonging,” she said. This more holistic view of development is backed up by data from SHRM, which found that learning and employee experience are intrinsically linked; employees who feel that their organisation offers opportunities to develop skills outside of their particular role consider themselves ‘highly motivated’ to recommend the culture to others.


About the
Kraft Heinz Company

  • Kraft Heinz was formed in the merger of Kraft Foods and Heinz
  • The merger of the two giants of food retail took place in 2015
  • The company currently has over 38,700 employees across the globe
  • ESG initiatives are famously important to the company. In 2018, it committed to making all of its packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.
  • The company owns brands such as Kool Aid, Philadelphia, Jell-O, Lunchables, Caprisun, and HP Sauce
  • It’s active in over 40 countries, operating over 51 brands in the US alone

Bassey on  aligning people experience with company goals:

According to Bassey, for a people experience to be effective, it must align with the overall goals of the company. As such, her company built a key cultural pillar around giving employees the ‘purpose’. She said:

“At Kraft Heinz, having ‘people with purpose’ as one of the pillars of the company’s enterprise strategy means that when we are communicating progress towards the company’s goals, we are communicating the progress of the key initiatives, priorities, and enablers of the people function’s goals.”

‘We’re on a journey’ 

Whilst Bassey believes that the development of Kraft Heinz’s employee experience strategy has achieved a lot, she’s quick to highlight that the company in its current form is a young one. The merger of two historic businesses into one gave Kraft Heinz a chance to really look into the experience that its people have at work, and make changes where it saw fit. In this interview with myGrapevine magazine, she referenced several of the initiatives that were born from this change; the company’s new BRGs, seemingly a key change in the support it offers employees; its ‘Ownerversity’, with the goal of empowering workers, increasing equality and building community; and it’s revised hiring practices, aimed at giving employees a fair and unbiased experience before they’ve even joined the company. These are ambitious initiatives that will likely aid the employee experience, that do contribute to Kraft Heinz’s mantra – ‘People with purpose’.


Yet, Bassey believes that Kraft Heinz still has a long journey of discovery ahead of it in order to create the employee experience it wants to offer. She said that giving people the opportunity to feel that they are a valued part of a community that is constantly developing and learning has been essential – and it’s a mission that Kraft Heinz is still navigating. “We’re on a journey, and it’s important to maintain a sense of urgency, passion, and accountability,” she said. “This is a marathon, not a sprint. We must make choices that align with our aspirations now while realising that reaching them will not happen overnight,” she concluded.

We deliver a multitude of offerings throughout the year aimed at empowering employees

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