October 20, 2023

How we are making IGS a more inclusive, diverse place to work

We're channeling the innovative nature of our technology into making IGS a more inclusive place to work for everyone.

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Our journey

We celebrated our 10th birthday in March of this year, marking a decade in business and an important milestone in our journey from Scottish startup to global scale up. Over the last ten years, we’ve grown exponentially and are now proud to employ nearly 250 people across three continents and six offices.  

The diverse – and growing – nature of IGS means each workplace has distinct nuances which change how our team interacts with it. We work everywhere from offices and research facilities, to live construction sites across the world building vertical farming technology for our customers. It’s such a nature that makes IGS the perfect setting for the Heriot-Watt University-based Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Caucus (EDICa).

We sat down with Heriot-Watt University’s Professor Kang Sang, the group’s Principal Investigator and Workstream 1 Lead, to talk about the group’s work with IGS up to this point.

Our work with the EDI Caucus

EDICa focuses on providing high-quality research evidence on equality, diversity, and inclusion to inform policy and practice in research and innovation. We previously collaborated with the Caucus in the co-design stage of their survey on COVID-19's impact on careers and inequalities, alongside helping to conduct pioneering research as part of their work into workplace menstrual and menopausal health. Next up, the Caucus will be using IGS to test research methodologies, where video diaries are used to capture lived experiences of new EDI practices.  

“We’ve been working with IGS since April 2023, and have visited the Edinburgh office to conduct a series of workshops, as well as the Crop Research Centre in Invergowrie”, Professor Sang told IGS.

“We hope this is the start of a long, established collaboration. Our aim is to support IGS throughout its growth, looking at how we organise policies around menstrual and menopausal health, but also physical office spaces – how can these be made more enabling? Are there adequate toilets? We aim to promote best practice through policy briefings and teachings – such as case studies – as well as creating an online tool to create inclusive virtual workplaces.”

“It’s really exciting working with IGS at this stage in the company’s growth – as IGS is learning, we are too! This makes it more amenable than other organisations which have been around for longer. The IGS team is made up of everyone from crop scientists and engineers, to remote and office workers, making it a perfect setting to conduct our research.”

The group is funded by the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the British Academy.

IGS’ in-house EDI Group

Here at IGS, we also have our own Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Group dedicated to making IGS a great place to work. The group initiates activities and thought leadership to welcome and support the team, making sure that our whole team is empowered to be at its best.

The EDI Group has six key workstreams, these are:

  • Gender
  • LGBTQ+
  • Disability
  • Mental health and wellbeing
  • Ethnicity and cultural background
  • Recruitment and onboarding

Over the last year, our EDI Group has organised activities geared towards supporting employee mental health, such as our quarterly FIKA events, encouraging staff to take a break from work and chat with colleagues over coffee and pastries. The group has also led initiatives including introducing a STEM Ambassador programme, and making safety shoes, trousers and boiler suits specifically tailored for women available, helping to make IGS a fairer, more equal workplace.

“We want IGS to be an amazing place to work. The EDI Group and its workstreams are geared towards doing just that”, Donald Mackenzie, Head of HR at IGS, said.

“We created the EDI Group to support wider engagement across the company, and create a platform to facilitate listening to employees. The collective aspiration is to recognise and celebrate differences, build bridges and support, and benefit equally from all of our experiences.”  

Working with groups such as EDICa, as well as our own EDI Group, has allowed us to evaluate how we work as a business and make iterative improvements along the way. If we can replicate the innovative nature of our technology into how we operate internally, we’re confident we can continue to make sure IGS is an inclusive place of work for everyone.

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Thursday, April 18, 2024

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Here's how we utilise the latest research to grow strawberry runners using vertical farming.

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