The February 2019 issue of FSR included profiles and interviews with a slew of powerful restaurant industry women.

5 Ways Women are Changing the Restaurant Industry

Women are proving to be the industry's biggest form of disruptive technology.

Since mid-2017, women have come into the spotlight as one of the biggest disrupting factors in the restaurant industry—disruption in the sense that they’re completely changing the game. Based on our recent coverage of women to watch in the industry, here are just a few examples of how, some penned by me, others penned by one of our freelancers, Juliet Izon. Click the links at the end to get the full stories.

Making it safer
One of the farthest-reaching initiatives to tackle sexual harassment in the restaurant industry comes from the National Restaurant Association, which created the ServSafe Workplace Program as a direct response to the #MeToo crisis. “Our intention under the brand is to create a suite of training programs that equips employees and managers with the information they need to help manage and mitigate emerging risks and advance the positive culture of the foodservice and hospitality industries,” said Janet Benoit, vice president of learning and development for the NRA. Read more.

Creating support networks
New organizations formed in the wake of #MeToo, like Women in Hospitality United, have also taken up this mantle of providing support for women in all stages of their career. Founded by three women with diverse roles in the food industry, WiHU’s mission statement is far-reaching and includes everything from providing “policies that set new standards for equity, accountability, and transparency in the industry,” to empowering “members by providing tools, training, advocacy, and support.” Read more.

Turning competition into camaraderie
Female-only cooking or mixology competitions are showcasing rising talent in the industry while bringing talented women together to support one another. Washburne Culinary Institute in Chicago invites around a dozen of its female students to compete yearly for their Women 1st, Now We’re Cooking competition with a grand prize of $5,000 education scholarship.

Ending gender-based and racial discrimination
In 2018, Julia Turshen founded Equity At The Table, an inclusive digital directory of women and non-binary individuals in food. “Like any industry, I’ve always known it’s centered on straight, white men. That’s nothing new,” she says. Equity At The Table was born when Turshen sought a directory of folks who did not identify as straight, white men in the industry. But she couldn’t find one. Read more.

Giving employees a reason to stick around
“I’ve always thought that it is really unfair to lock someone in, and in most restaurants, you know, the people who get locked into the lower rungs are usually people of color, immigrants, and women,” said Martha Hoover, CEO of Patachou Inc. “We automatically give people more power than other restaurants normally would. And by power I mean really to create a serious career staying at our company. We give them opportunities to build wealth, which is incredibly important.” Read more.

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