Diversity in Franchising Exclusive Content March/April 2021

Online Exclusive: Choosing a Franchise That Prioritizes Diversity

Why It’s Even More Important Than You Think

Contributed by Mary Brown’s Chicken

A diverse organization is one that employs people from all walks of life – gender, race, age, religion, marital status, ability, background, and socioeconomic status. Elevating and amplifying diversity is essential in every Canadian organization.

Numerous studies have shown that diverse companies perform better and have a stronger bottom line. What that means is if you’re looking to buy a franchise, it’s critical to make the organization’s commitment to diversity part of your evaluation.

Questions to consider in your franchise search

Here are some questions you can ask yourself as you evaluate possible franchises on their diversity practices:

  • Does this franchise have a diverse team at its head office?
  • Is there currently a strong representation of diversity among franchisees of this franchise?
  • If you visit a local franchise of this company, do you see diversity represented in its store teams?
  • Does this franchise’s product offering attract a diverse audience of Canadians?
  • Is this company reaping the benefits of providing diversity as a business focus?
  • Do the current franchisees, from all backgrounds, express satisfaction with the company?

As an example, Mary Brown’s Chicken, the largest Canadian quick service chicken restaurant, is firmly dedicated to diversity. Debbie Liao, Mary Brown’s manager of people & culture, says “We make conscious decisions in terms of talent acquisition; in addition to the skills and ability, when recruiting for leadership and management roles, it is an important factor for us to have diversity in our workforce. This includes, but is not limited to, women in leadership roles and visible minorities to be represented in our team.”

The benefits of diversity

Here are just a few of the benefits experienced by franchise organizations that embrace diversity in the workforce:

  • Faster problem solving and better decision making. Diverse backgrounds and experiences bring more to the table – more options, more paths to success, and more ways to excel.
  • Greater innovation. In the intensely competitive world of franchising, innovation is king, whether in operations, marketing, product offering, or customer service. Again, diversity brings more ideas to the forefront and enables a company to reach and engage a broader audience. That equals more customers – and more sales.
  • Enhanced creativity. Thinking outside the box is easier when there are multiple points of view from varied backgrounds. People from different backgrounds and life experiences are an asset as they bring different perspectives to the table – and that means exciting and unique ideas!
  • More customer insights. Know your customer! To engage and retain customers, you need to speak to their needs, values, and wants. There’s no better way to do that than with a diverse workforce that has its pulse on what’s meaningful to different consumers.
  • The ability to attract and retain the best employees. Diversity and inclusion go hand in hand. A franchise that values diversity usually encourages inclusion as well, creating an environment where ideas are nurtured, and individuality is welcomed. The most talented individuals seek out organizations that provide freedom of expression and the opportunity to grow.
  • More franchisee involvement. Inclusion also extends to franchisees in diverse organizations. Opinions, suggestions, and new ideas are welcomed and encouraged. Decision making is shared. Whether local or demographically, unique challenges facing franchisees are addressed.

How has diversity helped Mary Brown’s Chicken?

Mary Brown’s Chicken has tripled in store locations in the last decade and has seen record sales. In 2020, sales were up by 20 per cent, with average unit volume up by 10 per cent.

Debbie Liao explains, “Diversity has been one of the key factors in Mary Brown’s success. The diversity at head office and in our stores speaks loudly to Canadians. Not just about our values, but about our ability to be agile, to have a relevant menu, to employ and work with Canadians and new Canadians from all walks of life, and to operate in a way that reflects what it means to be a 100 per cent Canadian company.”

If you’re looking to be your own boss and create your own success story, put diversity at the top of your ‘must-have’ list when you’re considering franchise organizations. The benefits are many!

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