Star Interview

Becky Whorton,
Head of HR at Weetabix Food Company


For Becky Whorton, Head of HR at Weetabix Food Company, HR plays an important part in any company’s D&I journey. She shares with myGrapevine magazine how she has made this so...

Words by Jade Burke

Several studies state the benefits of putting in place diversity and inclusion (D&I) policies, with both Deloitte and Gartner suggesting that diverse companies enjoy higher cash flow and better performance. And one business who is no stranger to these benefits is Weetabix Food Company.

Known for creating the famous rectangle shaped breakfast cereal, Weetabix Food Company also has a strong focus on D&I. Speaking to myGrapevine magazine Whorton explained that HR teams play a crucial part in a company’s D&I journey and can help to communicate it across a business – implementing inclusions schemes and working to reduce inequality.

For Whorton, working on new D&I schemes has been a key part of her four-year tenure within the business. Since working in HR – a career she says she has ‘never looked backed on’ – at Weetabix she has helped launch a recognition programme known as ‘Weetastars’, and you’ll be able to read more about that below, as well as why she hopes to achieve the company’s vision of ‘Inclusion without Exception’, the challenges she faces and her plans to ensure there is no unconscious bias in the workplace.

CV of
Becky Whorton

Experience

Head of HR – Commercial and Support, Weetabix

Mar 2017 – Present

Senior HR Business Partner, Weetabix

Dec 2015 – Mar 2017

HR Business Partner, Weetabix

Jan 2014 – Dec 2015

HR Business Partner, Avon

Aug 2009 – Jan 2014

HR Generalist, Avon

Jan 2007 – Aug 2009

HR Advisor, DaimlerChrysler Bank

Feb 2004 – Nov 2004

Education

The University of Northampton

Post Graduate Diploma in Human Resources Management (CIPD)

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myGrapevine Member

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Why did you join the myGrapevine community?

“I joined myGrapevine to keep up-to-date with the latest HR news and innovations, as well as access insights from leading HR practitioners and resources to help us improve our internal practices here at Weetabix.”

Q

Are there any new D&I initiatives you are working on that you can share?


A

Diversity and inclusion is a fundamental pillar of our people culture and is integral to our ways of working. We believe people do their best work when they are themselves, so we have and will continue to make Weetabix a great place to work for everybody.

In the last year – our inclusion work has centered around communication. We expanded the impact of our inclusion and diversity forum, ‘Inclusion without Exception’, which was set up two years ago to create space for individuals to raise concerns, celebrate successes, educate team members and develop our inclusive culture further. We began our inclusion breakfasts and will be running unconscious bias and conscious inclusion training sessions.

"We strongly believe that the manager makes the difference"

Q

When it comes to D&I, how are you listening to colleagues?


A

We also ran our second inclusion maturity study this year, helping us to listen to our colleagues and give people a chance to share their views, via a series of focus groups on key themes. This has informed our year-on-year plans and will help us to continuously review our inclusion strategy. We have a senior team here at Weetabix who recognise that in order to make brilliant food we need brilliant people, which means that diversity and inclusion is high on their agenda and allows us to implement a clear action plan to drive improvement.

We're also proud to be a major sponsor of this year's Diversity & Inclusion in Grocery, a 12-month programme from GroceryAid dedicated to making our industry a progressive environment where people and organisations can thrive.

Q

What made you want to explore a career in HR?


A

Like many, I left education not really knowing what I wanted to do as a career. HR was mentioned to me by a friend, and I was lucky enough to secure a role as an HR administrator working for a truly inspirational manager. She quickly helped me see the impact HR can have on a business and its employees. It was then I knew I wanted to continue my career in HR – I haven’t looked back since!

Headshot Becky

A bit about Becky....


What’s your guiding philosophy to HR?

Effective HR can ensure that managers and people have the skills, attitude and resources to make a company successful.

How long have you been at your current position?

Four years, but with periods of maternity leave during this.

What is the best thing about your role?

The freedom to make the changes that will make a difference to the business and our employees.

What are the challenges?

Supporting several different functions with varying HR needs. It can be a balancing act, but one that I love.

Headshot Becky

Q

What have been your key objectives over the course of your career at Weetabix?


A

I joined Weetabix at a time when a lot of change was happening in the HR team. Our primary objective was to ensure we have robust HR processes, that would enable our people managers to be effective in their roles. We strongly believe that the manager makes the difference – the difference to how teams and individuals perform and how engaged employees are with the business.

Our first task was to ensure we business partnered with our people managers and provided them with the right tools and skills to be great people managers. My role now is to continuously improve and drive forward our HR offering and adapt this as our business changes for the better, to ensure Weetabix continues to be a great place to work.

Q

Looking back at your time with the company so far, what are you most proud of?


A

One of the things I love about Weetabix is our set up makes it easy for us to make change happen and implement new ideas quickly. Because of this, there are many initiatives I’ve been able to implement that I’m proud of. The areas that come instantly to mind are designing and launching our recognition programme – ‘Weetastars’ and creating our apprenticeship programme.

I designed the apprenticeship programme with one of our operations managers and we went from design to launch in just a few weeks. It’s been fantastic to see our apprentices graduate and move into roles within the business. I’m also really proud of the work that is currently happening on diversity and inclusion (D&I), having started the project, it’s fantastic to see the business embrace this and take us forward in achieving our vision of ‘Inclusion without Exception’.

"D&I is a fundamental pillar of our people culture"

Q

Have you bookmarked any goals you want to reach in the next 12 months?


A

My main focus at the moment is on designing and creating the future workplace. Covid has obviously been an extremely challenging time for many, but it has given us space to reflect on how we want to work going forward. Our teams have been fantastic during this period, and whether that’s working in the factories to ensure we can continue to feed the nation’s breakfast with Weetabix or working from home, everyone has stepped up to the challenge. As restrictions begin to ease, we are now shaping what our future workplace looks like, both in terms of where we work, how we work and the environment we want to work in.

"Inclusion should be a fundamental pillar of every company’s people culture"

Q

Do you think there are set priorities HR should be focussing on right now?


A

I’d imagine, the future workplace is high on most HR priorities right now. Everyone I speak to in HR is certainly focussing on this. And we know that inclusion is certainly on the radar of companies and employees more than ever before. For example, we are seeing more applicants and recruits asking about how inclusion is managed at Weetabix and what are the inclusive career prospects for anyone who wishes to advance their career at Weetabix.

HR plays an important part in a company’s diversity and inclusion journey and can help to communicate this across the business. Inclusion should be a fundamental pillar of every company’s people culture.