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Spice_Hub_PR_Asset.jpg Chipotle Mexican Grill
Chipotle in 2021 raised wages, expanded employee benefits and invested in leadership development.

Turnover skyrocketed at Chipotle in 2021, despite investments in people

Sustainability report offers update on chain’s goals for workforce, food and reducing impact on the planet

In 2021, Chipotle Mexican Grill achieved its goals for filling manager positions with internal promotions; tracking spending with minority-owned suppliers; and maintaining racial and gender pay equity, the company said Friday in its latest sustainability report.

Chipotle also achieved its goal of diverting 50% of waste from landfills by increasing the amount of trash that is recycled, composted or converted into energy. The chain is on track to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions from operations and electricity use by at least 5% by the end of 2022. And Chipotle purchased more than 40.7 million pounds of organic and transitional ingredients. That’s up from 28.1 million pounds purchased in 2020.

The report, which looks at the company’s goals for people, food and impact on the environment, also includes some targets for 2021 that were not achieved, in part because of supply chain challenges last year.

Chipotle had planned to have 100% of its chicken certified as humanely raised by a third party, for example. In 2021, the chain purchased 77 million pounds of chicken that was American Humane Certified of 189.7 million pounds purchased. The company blamed shipping and supply-chain challenges, but said the goal now is to 100% certified humane chicken by mid 2022.

“How we grow our food is how we grow our future; it’s both Food with Integrity as well as People with Integrity, and we transparently want to share the steps we’re taking to help us meet our aggressive goals,” said Marissa Andrada, Chipotle’s chief diverisity, inclusion and people officer, in a statement.

The company had also set a goal of piloting a supply chain food waste reduction project by the end of 2021, but that was “not achieved due to supply chain restraints from COVID-19,” the report said.

Chipotle also appears to be moving away from a unique program to recycle used plastic food-safety gloves into trash bags, a move piloted in 2019 that the chain was planning to expand to more restaurants. In 2021, Chipotle reduced the program to 16 restaurants and the company is exploring alternative solutions to glove waste.

Here are some other highlights from Chipotle’s sustainability report:


  • Because of the tight labor market in 2021, Chipotle experienced dramatic increases in turnover among all workers, and the chain said it is working hard to normalize those numbers. Among hourly workers, for example, Chipotle reported a turnover rate of 194% in 2021, up from 141% the prior year. Among salaried managers, turnover was 43%, compared with 31% in 2020. Field leaders and manager saw 21% turnover in 2021, versus 16% the prior year. And even corporate staff turnover nearly doubled to 21% in 2021, compared with 12% in 2020.
  • 90% of restaurant management roles were internal promotions, and almost 19,000 team members were promoted among the chain’s roughly 100,000 workers. The internal promotion rate was 77% for apprentice and general manager roles in 2021, the company said.
  • Chipotle is on track on its plan to develop a method to measure the amount paid annually to minority-owned businesses, which the company planned to do by this year. Minority vendors have been identified, and a process for tracking spending has been created, the report said.
  • During 2021, the company conducted an independent pay equity analysis in the U.S. and found no preferential treatment to any class of employee. But there were several “isolated discrepancies between actual compensation and our policies,” and pay adjustments were made to close those gaps.
  • Chipotle has been working on increasing diversity and inclusion, especially in the leadership pipeline. As of the end of 2021, the company said 53% of U.S.-based workers were female, and about 70% were comprised of racial and ethnic minorities.
  • Chipotle expanded its debt-free degree program to include agriculture, hospitality and culinary degrees. In 2021, 5,000 employees took advantage of the Cultivate Education program overall, up from about 4,400 in 2020.


  • The chain increased its purchase of local produce, buying more than 35.7 million pounds  of ingredients grown within 350 miles of distribution centers, compared with 31 million pounds the prior year.
  • Chipotle has pledged to partner with growers to transition conventional farmland to organic by 2025. In 2021, 110 acres of farmland was converted among the chain’s suppliers.


  • Chipotle exceeded its goal of maintaining a 90% recycling rate. In 2021, the recycling rate was 91% among all restaurants.
  • Chipotle has set up and maintained composting programs at 31% of restaurants, up from 25% in 2020.
  • Use of renewable energy has increased to 23.6% in 2021, up from 22% in 2020. 
  • The chain also set science-based targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in line with the goal of limiting global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius, and created an internal Climate Committee to focus on reducing emissions. The company has pledged to cut emissions in half by 2030.

The vast majority of the company’s greenhouse gas emissions, however, are tied to the “scope 3” category, or primarily emissions from suppliers and purchased goods. The report notes the difficulty of tracking data on those emissions, saying it is working to improve the empirical nature of calculations and data management.

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected]

Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout

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