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National Restaurant Association - Sweeney: Increase diversity to recruit, retain great staff

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Sweeney: Increase diversity to recruit, retain great staff

As part of Women’s History Month, we’re looking at the growing impact women have on the food industry over the years.

The number of women owned restaurant businesses has grown 40 percent over the last five years according to a study conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. Also, one-third of restaurant businesses are majority-owned by women and nearly half of the managers are female.

Still, Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association, says we can do better.

That’s why she and the leaders of the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association and International Foodservice Distributors Association have joined forces with the Women’s Foodservice Forum to support Lead the Way, an initiative aimed at achieving gender equity in the food industry by 2025.

With Lead the Way, the WFF is looking to industry companies, the NRA, IFMA and IFDA to help researcher McKinsey & Company collect data for its Women in the Workplace and Women in the Food Industry studies. The WFF recruited 32 food companies to participate in 2017, and set its 2018 goal at 100 businesses.

At the WFF's annual conference this week, Sweeney addressed the important task of promoting gender equity.

"If we can move the needle in this industry, we can change, quite literally, the whole employment world," she said.

Here are some takeaways from the 2017 reports:

  • In the food industry, women represent 49 percent of entry-level employment but just 2 percent of its C-suite executives
  • Women of color make up 14 percent of entry-level employees in the food industry and hold 3 percent of C-suite spots.
  • Women face higher barriers when it comes to obtaining their first promotions. In fact, 20 percent fewer women than men in the food industry reach their first promotion to manager.

Sweeney told the WFF audience that restaurants are the nation’s second-largest private-sector employer, with one of the most diverse workforces in the country, and that that puts the industry in a unique position to drive change.

Follow the WFF on Twitter and support #WFFLeadTheWay

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