An expression coined more than 20 years ago, the “war for talent” has arrived as companies scramble to find skilled employees. To win the battle, businesses need to develop a culture of openness, diversity and inclusion, noted a panel at SNAC International’s Executive Leadership Forum.

Vanessa Yates, vice president, snacks, WalMart, pointed out that employees now have more choice in where they look, and many of them are seeking to work for businesses that share their personal values and provide more than a paycheck. To find a more diversified pool of candidates for hire, Dina Reagan, senior director, R&D – salty, Campbell Snacks, a division of Campbell Soup Co., recommended that snack manufacturers look for individuals from different cultural backgrounds and create a safe working environment where people can express themselves and ask questions, even if there aren’t answers immediately available.

“Take a risk on the individual and help them, and I promise you it will be a two-way street,” she said. “You will gain as much, if not even more, from that relationship, and you will see the output of the individual soar. So, it’s super critical now on the war for talent. You want to be able to retain who you have and attract a diverse slate of candidates.”

Ms. Yates urged snack companies to go beyond traditional searches for talent.

“We have to really think differently about how we bring people into our team, what their careers look like and the value that they can bring in a truly inclusive environment.”

Being a champion on diversity and inclusion is an effective way to win in the workplace.