As restaurants begin to re-open around the country, we are given a unique chance to look at our brands and workplace cultures and take a few moments to identify areas of opportunity.
The restaurant industry has been a diverse industry for many years, though that does not mean it has been an industry of complete inclusion. It is the responsibility of every owner and manager to ensure their restaurants are spaces of acceptance and equality.
For starters, take a moment to review your employee handbook, your mission statement, your operations manual and your hiring and orientation practices. Do these truly represent an organization that celebrates diversity and equality? Do you and your management team live within these core values?
With COVID-19, our industry has seen some interesting challenges in 2020, challenges that we are overcoming with updated regulations and operations. As important as it is to let guests know about your new safety and sanitation protocols, it is equally important to lead by example with diverse leadership among a diverse staff, and an ethos of equality for all. Make sure your guests know that you are a company of inclusion, equality, and kindness. This does not mean counting employees to keep track of gender, race, or background, but that, in practice, it is evident that your establishment celebrates all people and the acceptance of all people.
The National Restaurant Association’s website has noted,
“The restaurant industry is home to a diverse workforce. Four in 10 restaurant managers and supervisors are minorities, as are six in 10 chefs.
The restaurant industry boasts more minority managers than any other industry. Between 2007 and 2012, the number of Hispanic-owned restaurant businesses increased 51 percent, African American-owned restaurant businesses increased 49 percent, and the number of Asian-owner restaurants rose 18 percent.
Restaurants also provide opportunities to women of all ages and at all stages of their careers. In fact, sixty-one percent of women have worked in a restaurant at some point in their lives, and 37% got their first jobs in a restaurant.”
According to these studies and results, our industry can lead while the rest of our country takes stock of their values and practices. The hospitality and food service industries can represent joy, inclusion, and diversity—and we should all check that this is what our individual businesses represent. Now is the time for justice, equality and leadership.
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon