Sweeney, who earlier this month received the Women’s Foodservice Forum’s 2016 Trailblazer Award for her support of gender diversity, indicated the impact females have had on the industry during Women’s History Month. She noted she is especially proud of the leadership roles women play in all facets of the restaurant business.
“There are more women in restaurant management and ownership positions than virtually any other industry,” she said, adding that the industry today provides “opportunities to women of all ages and at all stages of their careers, from owners to managers to college students to retirees.”
According to NRA research, 61 percent of adult women have worked in a restaurant at some point in their lives, and women-owned restaurant businesses are growing at a faster rate than restaurants overall.
“Between 2007 and 2012, the number of women-owned restaurants jumped by 40 percent, and today 33 percent of American restaurants are majority owned by women,” she said. “Another 15 percent are equally co-owned by women and men.”
What does it take for women to advance into leadership roles? Sweeney said although the skills of leadership apply equally to men and women, it boils down to three things: integrity, commitment and vision.
“You need to align your working life with your belief system in order to lead others,” she said. “People can tell when you’re genuine and they know when you are committed to their success and the organization’s mission.”
She added that true leadership is never about one person.
“One person may be great, a hero even, but an individual operating alone isn’t leading anyone.”
What does the future hold for women in the restaurant industry? Sweeney said she hopes we will see more women in leadership roles.
“I’m looking forward to the day when half of all company CEOs are women so the industry reflects the demographics of our nation.”
For more about women in the restaurant industry and Women’s History Month, visit America Works Here.