With Diversity, Chipotle Puts Words Into Action

Andrada says notes from sessions informed all of the initiatives internally and externally (as listed before) Chipotle decided to go forward with.

She shares an anecdote from a Black GM who told Chipotle’s team he felt safe inside the restaurant. Outside was a different story.

Niccol broke protocol that day and unmuted, asking if there was anything Chipotle could do to help.

“He said, ‘no, this isn’t about what you can do Chipotle. This is about society,’” Andrada recalls.

However, this back-and-forth left an imprint on the employee, she says. He returned weeks later to say the outward concern, from the top, made him feel invested in the company. And he shared the story with friends and family, and crew-level workers. “I looked at that and said, that is who we are as a company,” Andrada says.

“The simple things that you do, it’s empathy, it’s sympathy, it’s really seeing and hearing people. That’s what I mean when I say that. It’s powerful,” she adds.

It is painfully clear to me that we have work to do as Americans to ensure Black lives are valued and we are standing in solidarity with the Black community,” Niccol said earlier in a statement. “The racial and social injustice is unacceptable and we want to do our part to create an equal society.

Chipotle’s turnover at the GM level improved 15.1 percent from 2018 to 2019 as the company ended the year at 32.9 percent. The goal has been to get this number down to 25 percent.

Chipotle shared in July a goal to hire as many as 10,000 employees in the coming months to support growth through and after COVID-19. Its ‘We Are Open. We are Growing. We Are Hiring’ campaign kicked off in May and resulted in about 8,000 hires to-date, the company said. Since the beginning of the year, Chipotle received close to 700,000 applications nationwide.

So as Chipotle recruits and works on retention, what it stands for has fast become as critical as what it’s selling. Especially considering a suddenly wide talent pool that’s debating whether or not to return to restaurants. Balancing their safety, prospects, and personal beliefs with the options available.

And that’s where the employee perspective comes into focus, Andrada says.

The chain’s listening sessions differ from Andrada’s “Real Scoop” in that the first includes all executives, all ears. Anyone who wants to come signs up and joins.

The Real Scoop, though, is a conversation with Andrada where Chipotle caps to 100 or so people on Zoom. She’s brought in speakers like N.W.A. founding member Arabian Prince, musician Daryl Davis, famous for convincing 200 Ku Klux Klansman to leave the group, and former basketball player and commentator Clark Kellogg.

They’ve taken place roughly every other week, starting in July. Employees introduce themselves and then open up for a Q&A with the “Real Scooper.” After about an hour, everyone breaks out into 10–15 minute sessions to connect with peers.

“When you come from a place of telling your journey or sharing commonalities, that’s when I use the word ‘platform.’ We have a common platform,” Andrada says.

Chipotle doesn’t pay its Real Scoop influencers. They join to progress the conversation and advance social awareness.

In the end, Andrada says, it comes down to shrinking Chipotle to a level everybody connects with. “It’s not like this company doing big company things. It’s really something where our employees—amplified by their voices—help make change happen through their eyes.”

“I am a big believer,” she adds, “if you bring the best out of everybody and give them the space to do that, you can be the growth in this company. That to me, you can use the words ‘diverse, equity, and inclusion,’ but that’s what it’s all about.”

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