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Starbucks released these Pride cups in 2019.

Several restaurant companies named ‘best places to work' for the LGBTQ+ community

Starbucks, Papa Johns, Shake Shack and Darden earned 100% on the HRC Index and a spot on a Newsweek/Plant-A Insights Group index.

June marks the beginning of LGBTQ Pride Month, marking the 1969 Stonewall uprising in Manhattan that became an inflection point for the gay rights movement in the U.S. The month typically includes celebrations, parades, concerts and more and it may resonate for the restaurant industry more than others. That’s because the LGBTQ+ community is overrepresented in the industry. According to One Fair Wage data, 18% of industry workers identified as LGBTQ, which doubles the U.S. population identifying as such.

So, which restaurant companies do the best job creating a welcoming, inclusive environment for this demographic? According to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2022 Corporate Equality Index, 842 businesses met all the criteria to earn a 100% rating, of which several were restaurant brands. They include: Ben & Jerry’s, Chipotle, Darden Restaurants, McDonald’s, Papa Johns, Restaurant Brands International, Shake Shack, Starbucks, Sweetgreen and Wendy’s. 

Several restaurant adjacent companies like DoorDash, Uber, Impossible Foods, various casinos and hotels, Aramark and Yelp also made the HRC list. To earn top ratings, employers took “concrete steps to establish and implement comprehensive policies, benefits and practices that ensure greater equity for LGBTQ+ workers and their families," according to the HRC website.

“Equitable policies and benefits are critical to LGBTQ inclusion in the workforce but alone are not sufficient to support a truly inclusive culture within a workplace,” the Human Rights Campaign said in its report. “Employers recognize that beyond the letter of a policy, additional programming and educational efforts are necessary.”

More recently, Newsweek and data firm Plant-A Insights Group released a ranking of America’s Greatest Workplaces for LGBTQ+ 2023 based on a survey of more than 57,000 workers who identify as such. Those respondents ranked their employers based on criteria such as "proactive management of a diverse workforce,” companies that explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and clear reporting mechanisms for incidents that occur. This ranking comes on the heels of a similar ranking from the two entities examining best places for women to work.

"One key aspect of LGBTQ+ inclusivity in the workplace is offering benefits that cater to the needs of all employees and their families. This can include things like health insurance coverage for gender confirmation surgery, parental leave for same-sex couples and employee resource groups that provide support and networking opportunities," the Newsweek/Plant-A Insights Group report also notes. 

Restaurant companies on this list include:

  • Burgerville (5 stars)
  • Chicken Salad Chick  (5 stars)
  • Domino’s  (5 stars)
  • PF Chang’s  (5 stars)
  • Shake Shack  (5 stars)
  • Taco Mac  (5 stars)
  • Waffle House  (5 stars)
  • Arby’s (4.5 stars)
  • Cracker Barrel (4.5 stars)
  • Jack in the Box (4.5 stars)
  • Panera Bread (4.5 stars)
  • Papa Johns (4.5 stars)
  • Starbucks (4.5 stars)
  • Taco Bueno (4.5 stars)
  • Taco Cabana (4.5 stars)
  • Yum Brands (4.5 stars)
  • Darden Restaurants (4 stars)
  • Zaxby’s (4 stars)

Darden, Papa Johns, Shake Shack and Starbucks were the only four companies on both lists. 

Contact Alicia Kelso at [email protected]

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