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Though women make up nearly half of the U.S. workforce and are entering the labor force at a faster rate than men, they are still lagging when it comes to holding executive positions.
In the food industry, women are underrepresented at all levels, according to a 2017 McKinsey & Company report. Women make up 49 percent of entry-level employees in the industry, the “Women in the Food Industry” report states.
Yet, as women rise through the ranks, their representation drops considerably. Women represent 23 percent of the food industry’s C-suite executives, the McKinsey study states.
The biggest gap comes at the highest level, according to a January report released by Catalyst, a nonprofit group focused on advancing women in leadership roles.
Five percent, or 25 women, held CEO positions at S&P 500 companies as of Jan. 3, 2019. The restaurant companies in the index are McDonald’s, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Darden Restaurants, Starbucks and Yum! Brands. None have female CEOs.
Casting a wider net within the restaurant industry, more female leaders emerge.
Of the 100 largest U.S. restaurant chains, by sales, tracked by NRN, 10 percent are run by women. Those 10 brands include Taco Bell, Panda Express, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, In-N-Out Burger, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Brews, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, Auntie Anne’s, White Castle and Boston Market.
Of the 25 public restaurant CEO salaries that NRN tracks, three are for women: Elizabeth Smith of Bloomin’ Brands ($7.4 million in 2017), Sandra B. Cochran of Cracker Barrel ($6.2 million in 2017) and Denny Marie Post of Red Robin ($3.6 million in 2017).
When it comes to C-suite representation of women, large-cap restaurant companies such as McDonald’s and Yum! Brands are outperforming the food industry average.
Of the 20 corporate leaders at McDonald’s, six are women. Three have “chief” in their title. Chipotle’s 10-person management team consists of three women, including two new “chiefs” appointed this year.
Of the 53 global executives at Starbucks, 20 are women in roles ranging from SVP to COO. Of the 11 senior leaders at Yum! Brands, three are women. Of those, two are co-presidents at Yum’s most successful chain, Taco Bell.
In the boardroom, lawmakers in California are doing their part to close the leadership gender gap.
In September, California became the first state in the U.S. to require public companies with headquarters based in the state to have at least one woman on their board by the end of 2019.
The Habit Restaurants Inc. was one of the first California-based restaurant companies to comply, with the October appointment of Karin Timpone, global marketing officer at Marriott International.
Studies have shown that elevating more women to leadership roles can pay dividends.
According to the annual “Women Matter” report by McKinsey Global Institute, “gender diversity in management correlates with better organizational effectiveness and higher financial results.”
Roughly $12 trillion could be added to global GDP in 2025 by closing the gender gap of women in the workforce, the report states.
Catalyst CEO Lorraine Hariton said in a Dec. 11 blog post that change is in the air for women, driven in part by the #MeToo movement.
“It’s palpable,” she said. “It’s electric.”
But now is the time to strike to improve the power imbalance between women and men, she wrote: “If we stand up now, we can articulate what we want the future of work to be.”
Contact Nancy Luna at [email protected]
Follow her on Twitter: @FastFoodMaven