- Tender Greens, a health-focused fast casual chain, announced last week that it aims to fill half of its leadership positions with women by 2020, according to a company release. Leadership includes executive chef, sous chef and restaurant management positions.
- Shake Shack also recently launched its All-In initiative, a company-wide diversity and inclusion program, according to Nation’s Restaurant News. Last year, 60% of promotions within the company were awarded to women. The Human Rights Campaign awarded the burger chain a 100% score for its 2019 Corporate Equality Index assessment.
- "As a collective industry, no one is doing a good job identifying and cultivating female talent. The industry is in a labor crisis and most of the jobs are dominated by men, especially in the kitchen. I want Tender Greens to do better," Tender Greens CEO Denyelle Bruno said in a statement.
In a post #MeToo climate, taking a hard look at diversity up and down the corporate ladder is a savvy move for major restaurant brands. Diners are more interested in mission-based brands than ever before, and robust gender equality initiatives could lure new clientele and cement customer loyalty.
Sexual harassment is also more common in the restaurant industry than any other business segment, which makes robust female leadership imperative if companies want to mend their corporate cultures.
Diverse leadership teams can do more than simply brighten a restaurant's brand halo, too. They can lead to improved workplace innovation and a 19% increase in revenue, according to a recent study from Boston Consulting Group. This research also revealed that multiple aspects of diversity are important for healthy and thriving workplaces, rather than focus on one dimension. Per the study, equal pay, participative leadership, open communication and an emphasis on diversity led by the CEO are necessary for diversity to thrive in a workplace.
Although a 2014 study from the Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance concluded that restaurants are the most diverse workforce in the country, with ethnic and racial minorities making up half of all hourly employees and women filling 52% of rolls, the diversity tends to decline at the corporate level.
Tender Greens and Shake Shack aren’t the only companies attempting to bridge the diversity gap, either. McDonald’s recently launched a new gender initiative to improve women’s representation throughout every level of the company. It also signed the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles as part of its commitment to improving gender equality and tapped augmented writing technology to try to eliminate bias in job descriptions.
Despite these efforts, the industry has its work cut out for it. Forbes’ inaugural Best Employers for Women list included ten restaurant companies last year out of 300: Levy, Caribou Coffee, Five Guys, Red Robin, In-N-Out, Starbucks, Tim Hortons, Panda Express, Chuy's and Texas Roadhouse. Yum Brands, which owns banners like Taco Bell, earned a spot on Bloomberg’s Gender-Equity Index for its second year in a row, as well.
Other restaurants are focusing on diversity not only in their workforce, but in their marketing, too. Denny’s recently launched a new marketing campaign aimed at a stronger multicultural push to encourage consumers to check out its brand-wide refresh. As this issue becomes increasingly top of mind for diners, similar campaigns will likely follow.