Home Business News Shake Shack's Recipe for an Inclusive Workplace According to Reuters

Shake Shack’s Recipe for an Inclusive Workplace According to Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Everyone gathered in front of a Shake Shack restaurant in Shanghai


By Christopher Taylor

NEW YORK (Reuters) – If there is an important mantra for companies right now, it must be “diversity and inclusion”.

With racial, gender, and sexuality issues at the forefront of American life, the nation’s boardrooms are scrambling to assemble pipes of talent that look more nationally.

Chain of burgers Shake Shack Inc (NYSE 🙂 are off to a head start in this particular race.

The New York City-run flagship company recently received a perfect score from the LGBTQ Human Rights Campaign’s Human Rights Campaign for Friendly Workplace Equality Index. Support was even added to the menu, with items like “Pride Shake”.

Reuters recently sat down with Shake Shack’s chairman and chief financial officer, Tara Comonte, a Scottish native, to chat about the right recipe for incorporating business and social principles.

The edited excerpts are below.

Q: Shake Shack has been dubbed the “Best Workplace” for LGBTQ employees for many years – how did that become part of the corporate DNA?

A: It has always been a people-headed organization, ever since its inception as a hot dog in NYC. [Founder] Danny Meyer and () Randy Garutti have a set of principles that they call “Enlightened hospitality” and that has to do with caring for our team first.

Everything is derived from there.

Q: Did focusing on company culture come from your time as an investment banker, not positive for you?

A: I always say to people, “You learn a lot from experiences you don’t love or great bosses, and you learn from great things.” Investment banking is not a culture that I love or thrive in.

It’s incredibly hierarchical, where the proxy for success is always on your desk early in the morning or late at night.

I’ve also gone through too many meetings in rooms lacking diversity, trying to sell products that don’t look like the room. One example was I was working for this large global beauty brand, in a room where 12 men were arguing about a mascara ad.

I remember thinking, “This is the strangest conversation ever. Nobody in this room is even the target of this product.”

Q: How does being an employee-oriented company affect talent acquisition and retention?

A: The battle for talent is only getting more and more competitive. Everyone must want to work and stay with you. Therefore, we must provide an environment in which each party in the relationship dedicates themselves to: The individual dedicates himself to the company and the company dedicates its best to the individual.

That is why we “agree” on diversity, inclusion and equality.

Q: Since not everyone agrees on LGBTQ issues, do you face any obstacles?

A: We don’t try to judge anyone and everyone is allowed to give their own opinion. You won’t put everyone on the same page all the time. But we will become the people we will become.

Our North Star is that we need to do the right thing, as a business and as a brand and leaders in the community. We need to have our faith and do our best to educate and integrate.

Q: Have you been open to the discussion of “Fake Thief Syndrome” – as a woman in C-suite, what was your experience?

A: The impostor syndrome is real, and unfortunately women have it more than men. That being said, women need to have confidence in their own values.

I’ve had such a conversation lately, when a female colleague was in silence during a meeting. I said, “Remember, you won a seat at that table, and we want your point of view. You have a valuable opinion that needs to be heard.”

The more women you see on the board, having voices and leadership roles, and delivering great ideas, the easier it is for women to form.

Q: Diversity and inclusion have been the main theme for the past year, so what advice would you give to other companies?

A: Build a team that reflects the market you’re trying to tackle and the community you’re trying to get into. That will promote understanding, empathy, and creativity, and you will be even more successful.

Make sure every employee has an equal chance to go as far as they want. If not, you will lose your star performers, because people won’t want to hang around.



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