Head of Diversity, Equality, Inclusion & Multicultural Engagement
Headquarters: Spartanburg, SC
Business: Food and Beverage
Denny’s believes equality is not a policy, it is a value. Through a variety of programs, the company supports key causes, including requiring a diverse slate of candidates for all staffing, metric- and goal-driven succession planning at every level—from busser to boardroom, identifying and developing high-potential talent, and maintaining a robust mentorship program.
Diversity/Inclusion is intertwined within the company’s overarching strategy to ensure that the work is implemented from the top down. This ensures that leadership takes ownership of Diversity/Inclusion efforts and that their teams are fully involved.
Denny’s defines success in the area of diversity, equality, and inclusion in terms of culture change, not in terms of classes taught, people of color represented in its advertisements, or community outreach events (though, of course, the company keeps track of all those things). It is relatively easy to teach classes and hire consultants. Changing the way people think is quite a bit harder; but that is exactly what Denny’s is committed to doing—to fostering short and long-term changes in the company’s culture, as it continues to emphasize the importance of diversity.
Looking forward to the reminder of 2019, Denny’s has set the following goals for internal and external success:
- Worker success is Denny’s success: The company strives to create an environment in which all workers feel valued, with a fair opportunity to succeed. Internal initiatives aim to create a culture in which people are trained appropriately, have the tools to perform well, and have the energy to engage in activities they are passionate about outside work.
- Multicultural Engagement, Community Outreach, and Supplier Diversity initiatives can help Denny’s lead the industry by recognizing and taking advantage of opportunities provided by demographic and cultural changes.
Led by its head of diversity and multicultural engagement, April Kelly- Drummond, Denny’s partnered with 12 leading minority nonprofit advocacy organizations in 2018 to extend the reach of its Hungry for Education scholarship program, which combines Denny’s longstanding commitment to help fight childhood hunger with its focus on promoting academic achievement, into local communities across the brand’s key designated marketing areas. brand’s key designated marketing areas.
Hungry for Education awards scholarships to multicultural students for their creative and unique ideas regarding how Denny’s can impact childhood hunger in local communities. Last year, more than 2,600 students submitted applications and $326,725 in scholarship money was awarded to 51 students.