A 2020 employee engagement survey by the bakery specialist identified increasing the number of women in leadership would advance Dawn in its DE&I (diversity, equity and inclusion) goals.
A year later, Dawn launched its first Women Leadership Programme (WLDP), a robust platform that builds and strengthens the company’s talent pipeline and provides high potential women with the right knowledge, skills and experience to accelerate their development and prepare them to take on higher level leadership roles.
“Through one of our employee surveys, we heard from Team Dawn that they thought it would be beneficial for us to have more women leaders at the top of the organisation,” said Felisa Stockwell, VP of Global People and Culture, Dawn Foods.
“As we rolled out our formal DEI strategy in 2020, we went back to our team and listened to team members through listening sessions. And we heard from them again that it’s a priority for us to have more women at the top of the organisation in executive leadership roles.
“We decided one way to do this was to create a formal and structured development programme, so that we can invite high-potential women to get experience with the right knowledge, skills, and opportunities to accelerate their development and really get them ready to take on those higher leadership roles.”
Why are people so important?
“Without the [right] people at Dawn, we can’t make any product [and] we can’t sell,” added Jason Lioy, Dawn’s chief people officer.
“But more than anything, Dawn is a family company, so, our people are treated like family.
“Every business conversation we get into – whether it’s an acquisition, investment or new product launch, reformation … or building a new plan – we talk about the people and impact on people. It’s part of our DNA.”
Stockwell said the 12 to 18 month-long WLDP is both a long-term initiative and a springboard onto something bigger.
“We see this as a long-standing, sustainable programme that will continue to grow and accelerate women's development,” she said.
“But in that same token, we also see this as our pilot for bringing other specific developmental programmes into the organisation … something that we'll be looking into in 2023.”
Added Lioy, “If you come up with something that pops and then [move onto] something else, people lose interest and get disengaged. Same thing with products. So, whatever we do, we make sure it's repeatable. If not, enhance it for the next evolution.”
Stockwell said Dawn’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) approach comprises three key pillars.
“The first is embedding DEI into our mix. That's everything we do every day as an organisation: our policies, our practices, how we interact with people, how we treat people.
“The second is around training, education and awareness, helping folks understand DEI, what that means. This is where celebration comes in: celebrating our differences, what makes us who we are.
“The third pillar is external outreach and focus on supplier diversity. We’re going to work toward doing more of that in the coming years by reaching out to organisations and universities to bring in diverse talent, veterans, people with disabilities, etc.
“I would add that, as part of our DEI strategy, we have involved some of our customers – especially in North America – for things like Pride Month.
“For National Hispanic Heritage Month [15 September – 15 October], we’ve done spotlights on customers to share their stories and what that specific holiday or celebration means for them and their communities. That's a way for us to engage our customers in that celebration or event, but also for us to let [consumers] know that DEI is a priority at Dawn,” said Stockwell.
Doughnuts of the future
At this year’s IBIE, the global bakery manufacturer and ingredients distributor showcased its latest innovation, fast becoming a gamechanger in the bakery arena.
Thanks to the heightened awareness around health triggered by Covid, “everything is individually packed,” said Lioy. While up there on food safety, the downside is a ‘weeping’ glaze after a couple of hours.
Dawn’s Pak Perfect Non-Sticky Donut Glaze is a patent-pending glaze technology that allows for packaged yeast-raised doughnuts to stay non-sticky for up to five days.
“Dawn’s latest doughnut innovation provides grocers and manufacturers with a solution that keeps yeast-raised doughnuts looking great while staying fresh, longer,” said Roja Ergun, director of R&D Wet Ingredients, Dawn Foods North America.
“Our new doughnut glaze remains intact, non-sticky, and greatly reduces waste and assists with the labour needs of bakeries.”
Consumer feedback has also been positive, with 66% of participants in Dawn’s Sensory Testing noting a preference for Pak Perfect yeast-raised doughnuts over traditional glazed variants.
Tech, nostalgia, joy and health
IBIE also offered Dawn Foods the opportunity to unveil its 2023 global bakery trends report that delves into a greater understanding of consumer wants and needs. For the past three years, Dawn’s Market Research & Insights team interviewed thousands of consumers, bakeries, retail and foodservice establishments to observe how these trends come to life.
“We actually have four new trends that we’ve released this year,” said Sarah Hickey, senior director of Insights & Marketing, Dawn Foods North America.
“The first is technology transformation; showing how food has evolved and where consumers are consuming food, based off of the advancements of using technology, not just online ordering and delivery, but all of the elements of social media as well. To make consumers’ lives easier when they're consuming food and the location that’s most convenient for them.
“The second trend that we’re seeing is experience exploration. This is about the blending of nostalgic forms and flavours that consumers have an emotional connection to, but are also craving that desire for exploration, both in forms of new global and cultural flavours.
“So, the blending of things, for example, we have explored a Mexican hot chocolate brownie: taking the flavour profile of Mexican hot chocolate and bringing it into the brownie. Consumers are really excited about trying things grounded in the familiar with a twist that makes it fun and exciting for them.”
The third trend, said Hickey, is daily delights.
“This is rooted in consumers’ desire to bring moments of joy and happiness into their lives as we think about the importance of mental wellbeing and mental health, especially over the past few years.
“Consumers are really thinking and talking about that. We know that consumers are prioritising their mental wellbeing, things that bring them happiness just as much as the calories that they’re consuming. So, we’re seeing a lot of growth in small, individual indulgences that are really high quality and bring those moments of joy.”
Finally, mindfulness matters.
“That is our wellness … the consciousness of the consumer. It’s not about a strict diet, strict rules or strict regulations that we've seen in the past … but about being very conscious about their own personal wellbeing, what works for them. Things like gluten-free, reduced sugar and a clean label. They’re [also] concerned with the environmental consciousness of things: made in a sustainable way or things that are made in an animal welfare environment and if you think about things like vegan or vegetarian. It’s not just about their own personal wellbeing, but the greater good.
“And local. How do they support their communities? That is all wrapped together in one mindset that the consumer is bringing forward, and that’s how they align themselves with the brands that they're choosing. Again, it’s not about strict diets or strict regulations, but how does that collective fit into their values system,” said Hickey.
The growth of the metaverse
Going forward, Hickey believes the mindful matters concept will continue to grow and resonate with conscious consumers.
“That consciousness will continue to play a role in all of the different elements that we see and some of the other trends,” she said.
“Within mindfulness matters, we also see daily delights coming in, [while] mental wellness gets folded in with physical wellness and health, plus the wellness of the environment, community, and planet.
“I think we’ve only scratched the surface. Dawn has done a wonderful job in creating a portfolio of better-for-you items that are still delicious – we’ve figured out how to make a delicious brownie that just happens to be a vegan.
“It’s definitely an area that we are putting a lot of focus and energy and attention into. I also think technology is not going away,” said Hickey, noting the metaverse will become ingrained in the habits and lifestyles of the younger generation.
“As an industry, we need to figure out how to pivot those moments, where baked goods and desserts play a role, but in a different environment that no one have seen before.”