FastCasual has teamed up with Messner Reeves to create a certification program – Women In the Lead – recognizing restaurant brands that strive to include women in leadership roles.

Eighty years after women won the right to vote in the U.S., we are still fighting for equal pay as well as equal representation in leadership roles across every major industry. Between January 2015 and January 2020, representation of women in senior-vice-president positions grew from 23% to 28%, and representation in the c-suite grew from 17% to 21%, yet for every 100 men promoted to manager, only 85 women were promoted, according to McKinsey’s 2020 Women in the Workplace study, which tracks the progress of women in corporate America. IT also found that women remained significantly outnumbered in entry-level management roles at the beginning of 2020 — they held just 38% of manager-level positions, while men held 62%.

The good news is that the number of women in leadership roles is climbing. The journey, however, is taking too long, especially in the restaurant industry where there are only a handful of female CEOs.

So what can we — a small publication that covers the restaurant industry — do to speed up progress? After all, everyone can do something to help. After mulling it over, we decided to partner with a Denver-based law firm, Messner Reeves, to create Women in the Lead, a certification program recognizing restaurant brands doing their parts to ensure that women have a seat at their leadership tables.

“Equality at every level of an organization should not be left to chance,” said Michelle Harden, partner at Messner Reeves and moderator of a roundtable discussion last month about women in leadership at the Fast Casual Executive Summit. ” Study after study demonstrates that increasing diversity and women in leadership positions at the highest levels of an organization, be it a restaurant or in the legal profession, leads to improved outcomes across all indicators.”

Any restaurant brand meeting the following criteria is eligible to become WILD-certified:

  • Have at least one female on the c-level executive team.
  • Have a minimum ratio of 1:1 male-to-female employment.
  • Have women empowerment initiatives in place.

Interested brands may apply here by answering a few questions about their employees and will receive a notification if they have met the WILD standards.

WILD-certified brands will receive a badge to display on their website and social media accounts.

To learn more about how women can climb the fast casual executive ladder check out this article from the recent Fast Casual Executive Summit.

About Networld Media Group

Founded in 2000, Networld Media Group is a leading business-to-business (B2B) media communications company specializing in digital media, associations and events in the tech, banking, retail and food service industries. Online properties include,,,,,,,,, and Annual events include the Fast Casual Executive Summit, the Restaurant Franchising & Innovation Summit, the Bank Customer Experience Summit (BCX), and the Interactive Customer Experience Summit (ICX).

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