OUR MULTICULTURAL MOMENT:
A CHALLENGE TO YOU.
For nearly twenty years, the Multicultural Foodservice and Hospitality Alliance (MFHA) , in partnership with our corporate members and media partners, has led the effort to promote diversity and inclusion in our industry. We recognize that building Culturally Intelligent organizations - those that embrace the multicultural community, market effectively to it, and draw talent from it - is good for the industry and it is good business.
MFHA has made progress in many ways, and we continue to applaud the and innovative programs that some leading, proactive companies have developed. However, as the 2014 State of the Foodservice Industry Diversity Report confirms, our progress on talent recruitment and career development has improved very little in the past twenty years. Even as we have increased awareness and engagement on many fronts, the numbers of multicultural leaders in management ranks and other positions of leadership have improved very little.
Many companies that had aggressive diversity and inclusion programs in place several years ago cut back on those commitments during the recession and have yet to renew them. In addition, research confirms that a lot of companies are content to make minor, half-hearted efforts, but do not put the time and resources behind them to allow them to be really successful. Isn't it time we got serious and did what is not only needed, but what is indisputably right and in the best interests of our industry?"
The old saying that there is "no time like the present" rings true. We can continue to muddle along, give lip service to our industry's challenges, or we can commit to really make a difference. Each of us has to determine if we are going to be a part of the solution or remain a part of the problem.
This is our "Multicultural Moment"; one that presents an opportunity to renew our commitment to diversity, inclusion, and building Cultural Intelligence.
Here are some specific, clear and unapologetic suggestions we should all embrace to take advantage of this "Multicultural Moment".
Here is YOUR challenge.
Executive leadership - Presidents, CEO's, EVP's, COO's
- Get the facts about your own organization and be candid and open about them. If you have progress to make, acknowledge it. If you don't have a strategy and plan in place, now is the time to put one together. Considering how long we have been aware of the need to promote Cultural Intelligence, our numbers are very poor when it comes to people of color and women in senior management and on boards. The numbers tell a story that is both clear and sobering. We simply have to do better!
- Ask the hard questions: find out why your numbers are so low. Conduct a complete and thorough review of the recruiting, development, and advancement numbers for White males, Women, and People of Color. Don't hide the individual group numbers. Call out specifically how Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Women, etc., are doing as individual groups.
- Challenge your leadership team, not just your Human Resource department. Ask them to come up with legitimate action steps to improve the numbers. Hold them accountable for minority talent development objectives.
- Identify high potential talent and commit resources to developing them to their full potential. Minority advancement will not accelerate without an increased effort. It is no secret that, at one time, people in power took deliberate and specific steps to deny Blacks and other minorities access to basic American rights. It will take deliberate and specific action steps by this generation's leaders, especially White men and women of good will, to level the playing field for people of color and women. It will not be popular, or easy, but it is the right thing to do and our businesses will benefit from it.
- Meet with your peers and challenge each other and the industry groups you fund to develop specific and impactful goals to improve the advancement of minorities and women in management.
- Report your results inside and outside of your organization.
- Engage ethnic and racial community groups and ask for their help.
- Repeat the above steps at least once a year. Monitor them on an ongoing basis.
People of Color, Minorities, & Underrepresented Groups
- Get personally involved with the movement. Just talking about change on social media is not enough. Join a group, volunteer, or get involved with the diversity effort in your own company.
- Engage other People of Color. Help them see the value of this opportunity. We need to advocate for our causes with the same tenacity as women and members of the LGBT community have for theirs.
- Seize the moment! This is your chance to make a difference; this is our time to lead; and it is our industry that we can change. The civil rights movement has roots in foodservice in a way that cannot be denied. Integrating the lunch counter at Woolworths in Greensboro, North Carolina, was the catalyst for ending Jim Crow laws in the south. Restaurants are one of the most consistent sources of wealth-building in America for minorities and immigrants. In recent years, our Asian brothers have been very successful in lodging, and it has become a vehicle to wealth creation and economic power.
- Tell the truth about what needs to change in your company and in the community. Then help fix it. Don't stand on the side lines throwing rocks at the people trying to effect change. Do something. Go out on that skinny branch and risk being right; risk being successful; risk making a real difference.
- Help shape and work the agenda using facts, data, and business case evidence. Share your data with others and encourage them to use it wherever and whenever there are naysayers who question the validity of culture and inclusion efforts.
- Challenge anyone who opposes you and push forward for what you know is right. Do not apologize. Take pride and be bold when asking for resources to do what will help grow opportunities for all.
- Collaborate outside your own cultural group to look for synergies. For example,if Blacks work together with Latinos to look for ways to increase their contributions to the company's bottom line, who would disagree with that? The more we work together with people unlike ourselves, the more we realize how much we have in common. Someone has to take the first step, so let it be you.
Allies & Supporters of Diversity & Inclusion
- Stand up for the movement! Do not tolerate behavior, speech, or any other type of communication that is not constructive. If you hear "hate talk" about women, Blacks, Latinos, Asians, Bi-racials, People with Disabilities, or LGBT people tell them to stop. Set a positive example for others to emulate.
- Find where you fit in and start helping your group of choice. You don't have to be Latino to help the Hispanic cause; you don't have to Asian to support their development. In fact our White brothers and sisters many times are the best advocates for the "out" group.
- Learn the issues. Really learn the data, the opportunities, and the best practices that have made a difference. Find out what works and doesn't work for people of color and other underrepresented groups and be honest about what you see, learn, and experience.
- Advocate for the cause especially when no people of color are in the room. Famous Irish philosopher and conservative Edmond Burke said "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
- Find your cultural blind spots and learn to manage around them. If you ask your close friends and colleagues about where you have blind spots, they will tell you.
- Play offense. Don't wait to be asked to help. Be proactive and volunteer to help the company and minority groups address issues and leverage opportunities to the benefit of the company and employees. Share your experiences with other allies and tell your story of how you are involved and why.
- Collaborate with other allies from other groups to create synergy.
Everyone needs to include and advocate for People of Color, People with Disabilities, the LGBT community, and veterans. The bottom line is that everyone, regardless of position or level, needs to be inclusive and advocate for People of Color, People with Disabilities, the LGBT community, veterans and other diverse cultural groups. Our future depends on our ability to create culturally responsive workplaces that can develop diverse talent into Culturally Intelligent leaders. The time to act is NOW.
Gerry A. Fernandez
President & Founder