Which restaurant chains are best for female employees?

A first-ever Forbes ranking examines parental leave, discrimination and pay equity at American businesses.

Several restaurant companies recently made Forbes’ first Best Employers for Women ranking, a list that examines parental leave, discrimination and pay equity across a variety of businesses.

Though none of the restaurant companies came close to cracking the top 10, making the list’s top 100 are Levy (No. 39), Caribou Coffee (No. 46) and Five Guys Burgers and Fries (No. 65).

Farther down the list are Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Brews (No. 103), In-N-Out (No. 117), Starbucks (No. 119), Tim Hortons (No. 122), Panda Express (No. 132), Chuy’s (No. 188) and Texas Roadhouse (No. 238).

To compile the ranking, Forbes, in partnership with a market-research firm, surveyed 40,000 Americans (more than half of them women), working for businesses with at least 1,000 employees. The survey paid particular attention to gender gaps in responses to questions about working conditions, diversity and more. Women at all employment levels were surveyed about their employer’s policies regarding parental leave and other gender-equity battlegrounds.

The ranking comes at a tumultuous time in the restaurant industry, when the #metoo movement is shining a light on a history of harassment and discrimination pervasive in kitchens and the front of house as well. A number of high-profile restaurateurs, including Mario Batali, Ken Friedman and John Besh, have shuttered units or left their operations altogether after being accused of sexual harassment by multiple former co-workers and others.

Meanwhile, operators cite the tight labor market as one of their greatest challenges. Apart from the ethical implications, there’s an undeniably strong business case to be made for creating a workplace that’s inviting and respectful for all.

"Red Robin is honored to be recognized for providing women with equal opportunities to succeed in a historically male-dominated industry,” Denny Marie Post, president and CEO of Red Robin, said in a statement about the Forbes ranking. "To achieve success in today's disruptive business environment, companies need to take risks, promote women into visible leadership roles, demand gender diversity and hold the entire organization accountable for making progress.”

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