How Diversity Increases Your Restaurant Productivity
Every minute, around 250 people are born around the world. In the United States alone, there are 14 million people or approximately 4.24% of the population that work in restaurants every year. That’s a lot of people that work in restaurants, and statistically, that means staff from all walks of life. Knowing how diversity increases productivity in your restaurant is a crucial step in increasing your bottom line.
Making diversity the cornerstone of your company culture fosters harmony and lays the groundwork for the open sharing of ideas. Examining diversity means looking at everything from racial, gender, ethnic, and age differences, all of which are vital to an enriched staff. From a psychological and cultural perspective, that diversity in lived experience is critical to adding more to your melting pot. By ignoring any one group over another, you miss out on the potential opportunities that we’re looking at below. But first, let’s look back to look forward.
How Food Shaped the World
There are plenty of reasons that humanity has explored, ranging from curiosity to conflict. Evidence supports that early humans wrapped their food in leaves for short term preservation, learning along the way that different leaves created different flavors. Each discovery led to more need, which led to travel, which led to cultural overlap. Beyond flavor, the primary need for discovery was in anything that could preserve your food long term, which is necessary for survival. And to get that, cultural cooperation was and remains imperative; people didn’t always get along, but trade was much easier when they did.
One of the most common motives for embarking on often perilous journeys was to find and secure spices, foods, and preservatives. Historical figures like Ferdinand Magellan and Christopher Columbus are examples of famous explorers who traveled to find better trade routes for spices. Food shaped the world and continues to do so every day, as younger generations are shown to crave newer, more authentic foods.
Immigrants Bring New Ideas To Cook Up
As of the 2017 U.S. census, the country is home to approximately 44.5 million immigrants. A significant enough portion of that population works in the restaurant and food services industry that their absence has become a crisis, especially for undocumented immigrants. Their employment in the industry is no accident either; industrial professionals seek out workers hungry and passionate about their work, and a restaurant career allows a taste of home. To combat this problem, organizations like the National Restaurant Organization have advocated for practical solutions to secure the sanctity of the restaurant industry’s immigrant workforce.
Beyond the likelihood of immigrants in your restaurant, they bring in a lot of ideas. Worldwide immigration has allowed for the cross-pollination of culinary ideas and techniques from tacos to sushi across borders. Early travelers often introduced new plants and foods to cultures, such as potatoes which were originally cultivated in Peru finding their way back to Ireland in the mid-16th century.
Agriculture and Immigrants
In terms of farming, immigrants are an imperative part of the labor that drives U.S. agriculture. While that may not seem relevant to the kitchen, without their hard work and diligence, that’s less fresh ingredients to bring in, and consumers are eager for more. For example, some companies have struggled with transitioning to fresher ingredients, which has resulted in problems with their farming. Immigrants are an invaluable asset to our farming community, and necessary for the success of the industry.
Biological Sex and Gender
Women account for around 50% of the global sex ratio, with men just barely edging them out in the overall population. Despite that 50/50 chance, there are more women in the restaurant industry than men. Fostering diversity leads to higher productivity, which is relative to any barriers in pay or opportunities that women may face upon entering any industry. You can level the playing field by creating an atmosphere where employees have the same chances for success irrespective of their sex or gender.
In addition to the challenges of economic equality, women face a statistically higher likelihood of sexual harassment. Above anything else, this is an ethical violation of a woman’s space to exist and is never tolerable in your workplace. On top of the potential legal issues that operators face, this is an incredible (and horrible) distraction to your restaurant’s productivity that can cost you a lot of money. Keep in mind that harassment leads to high stress and anxiety, which leads to less overall productivity.
Studies indicate that restaurants are often highly stressful, an environment that women are psychology more equipped to handle. Setting the women on your staff up for success only gives you more tools to empower your workers, and ups the overall productivity of your restaurant. Women have a higher probability of success in leadership roles than men. Whether that’s through patience or having a higher test average for empathy, helping women to find their place and develop their skills can yield long term payoffs.
Race and Restaurants
The idea of looking at race or ethnicity through a demographic lens is entirely subjective on where you live. While you cannot assign any specific attributes to either group, you can look at the challenges that being in a minority group may create. In the melting pot of the United States, 13.7% of restaurant staff is African American, 7.4% is Asian American, and 26% is Latinx. These numbers paint a picture of immigration and representation in the United States, as well as a substantial part of your potential staff base. Working to ensure fairness is intrinsic in understanding how diversity increases productivity in your restaurant.
Research indicates that diverse companies produce more revenue. Part of embracing that diversity is fostering an environment that’s open to new cultures where the marketplace of ideas is open; when employers or companies treat employees fairly, they are more productive. Racial and ethnic minorities account for approximately half of hour employees, but a comparably smaller portion in advanced positions. You can help empower your staff, by providing equal pay and benefits commensurate with experience, to serve as a mentor, and to help them get ahead professionally.
What Older and Younger Generations Can Teach One Another
The average age of workers in the restaurant industry is 31.4 years. But that’s changing with more and more of the baby boomer generation rejoining the workforce post-retirement. Looking at the bigger picture, Millennial and Generation-Z customers are progressively more and more tech-savvy. They can impart that literacy on older generations who may not have grown up surrounded by technology. Where younger generations may be more in tune with modern tech or knowledgeable about dining trends, older generations have the benefit of experience on their side.
With progress in medical science, not only does the average life expectancy continues to rise, but the quality of life follows closely behind that. That means your customer base is aging with you, rather than retiring from social life. Your older employees can help you understand how to engage with that segment of your population. Say that you have a new piece of tech in your restaurant that customers will need to use. Let your older staff help you in the testing phase to see where deficits exist.
Did we miss someone? Almost certainly. Every culture is different. This article was filtered through the cultural experience of a white male in the United States. Ultimately though, the restaurant space is one of the oldest cultural crossroads that bridges gaps between people no matter where they are; everyone eats, and everyone needs a job.
By creating an environment where you empower your employees to have a voice, you can increase your productivity by removing the boundaries that foster stress and anxiety. You can learn fresh ideas or gain new perspectives. In doing so, you can increase your retention, enhance your potential, and improve your productivity
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About the Author
Syd was a content marketing specialist, which are fancy words for writing pretty to tell a good story. He likes writing things about food, drinks, and music. He’s a musician himself, a father of two, and loves his wife a whole lot.
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