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Addressing Issues of Diversity and Racial Equity in the Restaurant Industry with Tom Bené

How do you encourage more people of color to join your company in a leadership capacity? According to Tom Bené of the National Restaurant Association, it all starts with education and amplifying the message that your company values diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). This week on A Seat at the Table, Tom discusses diversity at the corporate level and why DEI is important to long-term business success.


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Full Show Notes:

“I think that most organizations today know that there’s value created when you have that level of diversity because you get better thinking. You get better decision making.” – Tom Bené, President and CEO of the National Restaurant Association

Listening to the people who are closest to the issue at hand is the best way to make change in an organization. Tom Bené, President and CEO of the National Restaurant Association, saw this in action during his time at PepsiCo when he was involved with the Women’s Food Service Forum.

Today on A Seat at the Table, Gerry talks to Tom about how to build an authentic brand in communities of color. For Tom, it all begins with education and amplifying the message that your company is dedicated to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Listen to the episode for Tom’s advice on how to get more leadership in the area at the corporate level.

  • (00:48) – Becoming a lover of the industry
  • (02:37) – Diversity in upbringing
  • (03:26) – Leading the National Restaurant Association
  • (04:38) – Initiatives at PepsiCo and Sysco
  • (07:20) – Proud moments as a leader
  • (09:18) – Opportunities for corporate America
  • (11:48) – Moving in the same direction
  • (15:59) Restaurant Employee Relief Fund
  • (18:21) – Closing the leadership gap
  • (20:32) – Encouraging participation
  • (21:41) – Pleasant surprises
  • (23:41) – Learning from the front line
  • (25:56) – Influential leadership
  • (28:55) – Now is the time
  • (31:37) – Leading in the space
  • (32:52) – Hope for the future

Tom Bené is President & CEO of the National Restaurant Association—the Washington, D.C.-based trade association representing the nation’s restaurant and foodservice industry—and CEO of the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.

Prior to assuming this role in June 2020, Tom served as Chairman, President & CEO of Sysco Corp., the world’s largest foodservice distributor, where he had previously served as COO, President of Foodservice Operations, and Chief Commercial Officer.

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Podcast episode production by Dante32.

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