At Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group, women are an important part of the company and occupy key leadership roles in the organization. Four members of the company’s executive leadership team and 15 of the company’s high-level managers and executive chefs are female, making them an exception in the male-dominated restaurant industry.
As the discussion around restaurants and chefs has increased over the past few years, many organizations are thinking about quality of life for restaurant workers and creating an environment where women can take on more leadership roles. Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group, which operates Del Frisco’s Grille, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House, and Sullivan’s Steakhouse, prides itself on creating an inclusive atmosphere where female and male employees can thrive.
“It really starts at the top,” says Lisa Kislak, vice president of marketing for the restaurant group. “Our CEO, Mark Mednansky, is very supportive of women in front and back of the house.”From top to bottom, Del Frisco’s creates anenvironment and culture where both men and women feel they can be leaders, adds April Scopa, vice president of people and education for the restaurant group.“Our environment is very inclusive and we treat it as a team effort.” Both Kislak and Scopa point to three things that Del Frisco’s does to cultivate female leadership within its company.
Encouraging Employees to Continue Education
At Del Frisco’s employees are encouraged to pursue education while working for the company. “We support anyone in education and that’s really a big part of our culture,” Scopa says. The company offers access to leadership conferences, seminars, and internal programs to help employees add to their skill set. “Our internal programs focus on management development and culinary development,” she continues. Del Frisco’s also covers the costs for employees who pursue the first three levels of wine certification from the American Sommeliers Society.
The benefits of providing employees access to education is twofold, says Kislak. “It helps the employee and the company,” she explains. The company is able to create more leadership, which they can then promote and the employee feels better equipped to do their job. “The more comfortable we feel with knowledge in our roles, the more we can move up in an organization.”
Benefits/Paid Medical Leave
Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group offers full, paid medical leave and insurance for employees and their families, as well as 401K retirement plans. “We have one of the best benefits programs in the country,” Kislak says. It’s a form of security for employees, especially women, and is one less thing that workers have to worry about. “Women are often the CFO of their own homes but not at work,” Kislak says. Providing access to benefits that cover workers and their families allows women to focus on their jobs and advancing in their careers.
Create a Clear Career Path
Great leaders aren’t found, they’re developed, and at Del Frisco’s it’s important to create leadership within the brand. “We like to ask our employees where they see themselves in three or four years,” Scopa says. “That creates a career path and we can help them reach their goals.”
Owners can then mentor and guide the employee in their career with the company, she continues. She advises owners and managers to look at their team members because there may be employees with untapped potential in the organization. “There are leaders that you’ve hired that you may not recognize yet,” she says.
“We need to change the perception that women can’t do what men do in this industry,” Scopa says. Both Kislak and Scopa agree that men in the restaurant industry play an important role in helping change that perception. “Be an advocate and be supportive,” Kislak says.
“Be a champion. That’s what we are everyday,” Scopa adds.
By Korsha Wilson