About Darden Restaurants
Darden is a restaurant company featuring a portfolio of some of the most recognizable and successful brands in full-service dining — Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Yard House, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, The Capital Grille, Seasons 52, Eddie V’s and Bahama Breeze. Darden owns and operates more than 1,850 restaurants and employs 180,000 team members. The largest full-service restaurant company in America, Darden serves 400 million guests annually in hundreds of communities across North America. For the fiscal year ending May 28, 2023, Darden reported total sales of $10.5 billion.
Darden’s mission is to be financially successful through great people consistently delivering outstanding food, drinks and service in an inviting atmosphere, making every guest loyal. The company’s success is rooted in a commitment to its core values of Being of Service, Inclusion & Diversity, Respect & Caring, Integrity & Fairness, Teamwork, Excellence, and Always Learning, Always Teaching – values which can be traced to 1938, when 19-year-old Bill Darden opened his first restaurant. He understood that excellent service would be vital to the success of his restaurant, he treated everyone equally and he welcomed all guests to his tables. The casual-dining pioneer’s commitment to superior service rings true today — more than 80 years later — in each of Darden’s restaurants across North America. His strong values form the bedrock of Darden’s culture.
Headquartered in Orlando, Florida since 1968, Darden is one of the largest employers in Central Florida.
Taking direction from the Chief People & Diversity Officer (CP&DO), the Director, Inclusion & Diversity will develop and execute the initiatives required to achieve the senior leadership team’s workforce inclusion and diversity strategy, which supports business objectives and ensures an inclusive culture that delivers a competitive advantage for Darden.
The incumbent will partner with the HR Leadership Team to plan and execute workforce initiatives that promote inclusive leadership effectiveness and employee behaviors that will enhance recruitment, development, retention and engagement of top talent at Darden, and subsequently improve the guest experience.
Darden is characterized by a highly relationship-driven environment where collaboration and interaction with colleagues is encouraged. The Director, Inclusion & Diversity will serve as an internal subject matter expert to the HR leadership teams and help them integrate best practices into their brands and functions.
The focus of this position is to integrate inclusion and diversity practices into the company’s existing people strategy. This is a hands-on role that achieves results through influence and partnership. The Director will sit on the HR leadership team, which is made up of the senior HR leaders for each of the restaurant brands, plus functional HR leaders, and will help devise ways to weave inclusion and diversity across all brands and functions.
The Director will provide leadership and guidance for Darden’s Employee Resource Groups (ERG’s) and will serve as the primary liaison for a number of external local and national organizations.
Roles and Responsibilities
Support and execute the Darden leadership team’s inclusion and diversity strategy:
- Partner with the HR Leadership Team to embed inclusion and diversity practices into enterprise and brand talent management strategies, including but not limited to talent acquisition, talent review, training and development, reward and recognition, and succession planning;
- Effectively lead direct report/s to deliver on the objectives of the inclusion and diversity strategy;
- Conduct ongoing benchmarking and “best practice” identification and share with the CP&DO;
- Provide feedback to the CP&DO regarding specific inclusion and diversity challenges in the business, including proposed solutions;
- Recommend workforce initiatives to further enhance Darden’s inclusive culture;
- Ensure effective guidance to employee resource groups that ensure a business-aligned approach to further promote inclusion and diversity education and awareness that improves employee engagement and retention;
- Effectively deliver I&D-related training to people leaders and team members as needed; and
- Provide data and analysis on employee representation, retention, engagement, and other related metrics, including ongoing focus on assessing success of inclusion and diversity efforts.
- Support the Darden leadership team to position Darden externally as an employer of choice:
- Identifies opportunities to develop Darden’s reputation as an inclusive workplace and employer;
- Represent Darden externally with key stakeholder organizations, including but not limited to Executive Leadership Council, Out & Equal, Multicultural Foodservice and Hospitality Alliance, Florida Diversity Council and the Women’s Foodservice Forum; and
- Lead collection and collation of data to support industry and general business surveys, awards, reporting requirements and/or recognition opportunities.
- Act as a subject matter expert and thought partner on inclusion and diversity issues and solutions for brand and functional leadership;
- Partner with Corporate Communications and the HR Leadership Team to ensure a unified strategy around internal and external messaging; and
- Develop, track and manage the inclusion and diversity budget, ensuring optimal ROI on initiatives and activities.
To be seriously considered, we would expect that every candidate will demonstrate through prior experience the following qualities and personal attributes:
- Passion for inclusion and diversity: Belief in the ability for an inclusive workplace to enhance and grow the business. Strong understanding of the benefits of an inclusive culture as a competitive advantage, and knowledgeable about trends in the practice of diversity.
- Diversity and Inclusion knowledge and experience with an ability to leverage different practices for attracting, developing and retaining to drive business results.
- Credible experience and knowledge in consumer-facing businesses is preferred, with a demonstrated ability to understand the needs of large, field-based hourly team members and management, as well as corporate teams.
- Proven experience with influence-based implementation. The ability to collaborate with multiple stakeholders at all levels across a highly matrixed and geographically dispersed organization to execute workforce initiatives in a highly practical manner is essential.
- Interpersonal & Communication Skills: Demonstrates highly effective verbal, written and presentation communication skills at all levels, with experience operating effectively in a highly matrixed environment. Possesses strong interpersonal skills and a high level of emotional intelligence to handle complex situations.
- Project Management: Demonstrates the capability to achieve preferred outcomes on time and within budget through the application of project management principles and techniques.
Education, Training, Experience and other Key Qualifications
- Bachelor’s degree (or experience in lieu of qualifications), preferably in Human Resources (HR) or Organizational Development (OD).
- Progressive professional HR/OD or inclusion and diversity management experience, with demonstrated success leading inclusion and diversity practices and programs.
- Experience with large scale multiple projects requiring collaboration of multiple functional groups required.
The annual salary for this role will start at a base salary of $170,000 plus bonus and other incentives. A comprehensive benefits package is included, and relocation assistance will be provided if necessary.
Darden Restaurants is an equal opportunity employer that believes diversity strengthens our community. Applications are considered without regard to race, color, religion, national or ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation, age or disability. All qualified people are encouraged to apply.
Darden has retained Diversified Search to assist in this recruitment. All inquiries and expressions of interest should be directed electronically to: DardenDirector@divsearch.com.