Cheers to the Women of the Restaurant Industry [Infographic]

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Cheers to the Women of the Restaurant Industry [Infographic]

The restaurant industry provided a first job for more than one third of all US women. Here’s a closer look on the impact women are having in the restaurant industry today.

Infographic: What Women are Bringing to the Table in the Restaurant Industry

Find out what women bring to the table as leaders and why your restaurant’s leadership team would benefit from putting more women into leadership roles. This article is filled with stats about women in the restaurant industry and a who’s who list of women making a difference in the industry today.

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, we came across some data about women in the restaurant industry and were struck not only by how much women have impacted the restaurant industry, but also by the opportunities the industry provides for women, whether they wanted to make it their career or simply used a restaurant job to enter the workforce. Whether they used a restaurant job to launch their career or made it their life calling, nearly all say that what they learned on the job was of great value.

For more than one third of women, the restaurant industry provided a first job, and six out of ten women in the US have worked in a restaurant at some point. Of these, 92 percent say that the restaurant industry is a good place to get a first job and learn valuable skills (, How Dynamic Women are Leading the Restaurant Industry).

The NRA (National Restaurant Association) published several press releases this month which featured intriguing stats about the impact that females have had on the restaurant industry (and vice versa):

  • 45 percent of restaurant managers are women (compared to just 38 percent in other industries)
  • More than half of US restaurants have women as owners (or co-owners)
  • Six out of ten women (61 percent) say they have worked in the restaurant industry at some point, and nearly all say that the restaurant industry was a good place to get a first job and learn valuable skills

While women are more likely to hold mid and senior leadership roles in the restaurant industry than many other industries, there’s still a long ways to go. When the WFF (Women’s Foodservice Forum) last reported on female representation among restaurant leadership teams in 2011, they found that 13 of the 51 restaurants they track still did not have women in senior leadership roles.

What Women Bring to the Table in Restaurant Industry Leadership Roles

Women bring a lot to the table as leaders in the restaurant industry (or any industry, for that matter). A Forbes article about the most undervalued traits of women leaders lists some characteristics that can (arguably) help make any type of organization more successful. Specifically, among the most undervalued traits women leaders often have are being:

  • opportunity-driven
  • strategic, primarily because they are more skeptical and intuitive (they see past the obvious)
  • passionate
  • entrepreneurial
  • purpose-driven and meaningful
  • influenced by (and aware of) traditions and family

In addition, research conducted by Princeton-based talent management company Caliper identified a list of qualities that distinguish women leaders (in comparison to male counterparts). Not only were they found to be more empathetic, flexible, and possessed better interpersonal skills, they also outscored male counterparts when it comes to other qualities, including:

  • ability to persuade
  • better at shaking off mistakes and getting back in the game
  • more inclusive, team-building leadership style for problem solving and decision making
  • more likely to ignore the rules and take risks


Who’s Who: 8 Women Making a Difference in the Restaurant Industry Today

As part of their celebration of women’s history month, QSR Magazine (quick service restaurants) is featuring a story on eight restaurant chains that have women in key leadership roles. Here’s a peek at who made their list (read the article for more information about each of these successful women who are leading the way in the restaurant industry).

  • Kat Cole, the President of Cinnabon, began her career in the restaurant industry as a Hooters hostess at age 17
  • Rebecca Fine, Chief People Officer at Panera, is a long-time employee who is still unafraid of jumping in to help out during a breakfast or lunch rush
  • Linda Lang, CEO and President of Jack in the Box, says that getting out of your comfort zone is the key to success
  • Jan Fields, the President of McDonalds USA, started out in the industry as a fry cook at age 23
  • Cheryl Bachelder, CEO of AFC Enterprises and President of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, published a research study proving that teams made up of even numbers (50/50) men and women delivered the highest performance
  • Susan Shields, CMO of Jamba Juice, was a customer and fan before joining the company and brings her passion for healthy living to the table as its marketing officer
  • In the first two years after Sally Smith, CEO of Buffalo Wild Wings, joined the leadership team, the chain doubled in number of units, and they are still growing quickly to attain their goal of 1,000 locations
  • Christine Deputy, Senior VP of HR for Dunkin’ Brands says her #1 job is customer satisfaction (not hiring or managing people)


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