Do you have the knowledge and skills necessary to engage people from different cultural backgrounds effectively? Do you know what unconscious bias is, or the negative impact it can have on your restaurant’s operations and sales?

Gerry Fernandez, founder and president of the Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance, an affiliate of the National Restaurant Association, says understanding what cultural intelligence and unconscious bias are and how they affect your business is essential to provide great guest service, engage your employees in positive ways, and improve profitability.

“Here’s the bottom line: By 2050, U.S. demographics will have shifted dramatically to a majority made up of minority cultures,” Fernandez says. “Because of that change, restaurateurs must embrace diversity and inclusion so they can grow their customer base and attract and retain the best employees in the industry’s workforce.”

To help restaurants learn more about diversity and inclusion, Fernandez and the MFHA team have held a series of regional Multicultural Workplace Solutions roundtables at restaurant and foodservice companies around the country. The roundtables, which Fernandez moderates, guide executives, franchisees, managers, recruiters and human resources professionals through some of the most important aspects of cultural intelligence, including:

  • The ability to operate well in diverse environments, adjusting procedures as needed to help managers and team members get their jobs done effectively in a culturally diverse workplace.
  • The ability to make more informed decisions during recruitment efforts.
  • The ability to understand cultural influences, behaviors and responses, avoid stereotyping and recognize when unconscious bias is at play.

The regional roundtables program, currently in its second year, will hold its next two meetings Oct. 24, at Dunkin’ Brands headquarters in Canton, Mass., and Nov. 13, at The Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta. All are welcome.

“We think this is a great way to bring industry members together and give them solutions to put into practice at their own restaurants,” Fernandez said. “You’d be surprised to see how unconscious bias presents itself in the workplace; we discuss ways to recognize it, eliminate it and create a better environment for everyone.”