The hospitality industry is a unique and welcoming community where people from all different backgrounds and experiences come together. We asked hospitality leaders to share their perspectives on diversity and how it has impacted their career paths.
"Diversity is one of the most important things that has helped me build a team and my career. The melting pot of each restaurant I worked at really taught me about people's cultures and personalities and how learning from one another is very important."
- Sol Han, Executive Chef at LittleMad NY
"As a Black woman I bring diversity, talent, and unique perspectives to the industry. My approach to problem-solving leads to innovation and creativity in the workplace because of this unique perspective. What I am most proud of is acting as a role model and mentors, inspiring the next generation of women of color to enter and succeed in this industry. I advocate for change and drive diversity and inclusion initiatives within organizations, creating a more inclusive and equitable workplace for all employees."
- Kutina Ruhumbika, Chief People Officer at Levain Bakery
"Embrace diversity of backgrounds and perspectives. The more you immerse yourself in this industry, the more you realize that we all come to the same conclusions, regardless of where we are in the world. There is something so beautiful in that, despite all the geographical barriers that place us in different parts of the world, that we are one. Take the time to learn from your peers and learn their stories. Travel when you can. May that every day camaraderie and rapport with your team help."
- Mark Chou. Chef de Cuisine at Frenchette
"There is so much work to do to improve the hospitality industry from diversity in leadership, wage equity, work/life balance and saving the planet. I am inspired by focusing on restoring heritage grains in Colorado and supporting and recreating the network of farmers, millers and makers needed to make a regional grain economy thrive."
- Nokkie Lipsey, Project Development Manager at Id Est Hospitality and Chef / Owner of Kitchen Giant
"At first my diversity felt like a hindrance. Most chefs I worked for were white. I was in Scottsdale, AZ and from Memphis, TN. I just didn't seem to have the same camaraderie as other chefs. I knew when I opened a restaurant I would make a place where people like me wouldn't just survive, but thrive."
- Gregory Collier, Chef / Owner of Leah & Louise.
"The work has to be part of your every day and it has to be part of the whole team's culture, not just a department. You have to continue to have conversations with people, figure out what works and doesn't, and then take action. Real change comes from taking one small step at a time while continuing to learn. It's important to understand that this work is messy and can be uncomfortable."
- Michelle Herndon, Director of Diversity, Inclusion & Community at BOKA Restaurant Group
"I believe that diversity has had a great effect on me! When I started, it was dominated by men, mostly European, often pretentious, like being part of some old boy network. Now I am proud to say that I work with more women than men, and that we represent a multi-national, multicultural group of people that are all dynamic!"
- Ian Winslade, Chef / Partner at Mission Hospitality Group