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Women execs share insights on making an impact on the restaurant industry

Women in the restaurant industry are advancing in their careers, but what’s next?

In an industry dominated by men, it can be an uphill battle for women to advance their careers. It's why many women in executive positions in and around the industry have invested the time and effort into mentoring, finding ways to make a lasting impact for others working their way up in their careers. Women can make the most impact by being role models and mentors in their companies and the industry at large, according to a panel of industry leaders presented at Winsight’s Restaurant Leadership Conference in Phoenix this week, moderated by Hattie Hill, CEO of the Women’s Foodservice Forum.

Cindy Culpepper, CEO of the Galardi Group (parent of Wienerschnitzel); Roz Mallet, President/CEO, PhaseNext Hospitality; Julia Oswald, Senior Vice President-Strategy & Insights, Domino's Pizza; and Tonya Robinson, CFO of Texas Roadhouse shared their insights on how women can shake up the restaurant industry. Here are some of their takeaways:

• Request opportunities that allow you to grow. Robinson was asked by her CEO to lead the earnings call and present to the board—because she wrote the scripts. She makes sure she provides similar opportunities for the women on her team and throughout the company.

• Have regular conversations with leaders around succession. If you’re part of the team, make sure some women are on the succession list, said Mallet. It also makes leadership think harder about who they are bringing into the organization and makes them focus on hiring people they think can move up to the C-Suite.

• Encourage more women to own their businesses, Galardi told the audience. While there’s great opportunity for women to become franchisees and make an impact in the industry, they sometimes lack the confidence to go that route.

• With the emphasis today on unconscious bias training, we’re at a tipping point because people at the top are listening, said Oswald. Not just the industry, but the universe at large. Companies are more receptive to change and the opportunity is there to promote gender equality and win the war for talent.

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