Driving Success Through Diversity and Inclusion: Real-World Examples in the Restaurant and Food Business

The hospitality industry, and particularly the restaurant and food sector, flourishes on the principle of welcoming all – a concept that extends not just to their customer base, but also their workforce. In a vibrant and multicultural part of the world like Australia and New Zealand, diversity and inclusion (D&I) have significant potential to enrich the hospitality industry. This article will shed light on how restaurants and food businesses have harnessed the power of D&I to drive innovation, enhance customer service, and ultimately boost their bottom line.

The Necessity of Diversity and Inclusion in Restaurants and Food Businesses

In an industry as wide-ranging and customer-facing as the restaurant and food sector, diversity brings a plethora of benefits. Varied perspectives can lead to creative menu ideas, innovative business strategies, and a better understanding of a diverse clientele. Inclusion, on the other hand, ensures that this diverse workforce is engaged, respected, and equipped to contribute fully to the business, leading to improved morale, productivity, and retention.

The business case for D&I in the hospitality industry is robust. A diverse workforce brings a variety of perspectives, fostering innovative thinking, improving problem-solving, and driving business performance. Inclusive environments empower employees to be their best selves, leading to improved employee morale, productivity, and retention.

Strategising Diversity and Inclusion

  1. Leadership Commitment: Change begins at the top. Leaders must embody a commitment to D&I, fostering an environment where all employees feel valued and appreciated. They should communicate the benefits of D&I clearly and regularly, and invest in training programs that educate the workforce about unconscious biases and respectful behaviours.
  2. Recruitment and Retention: Hiring practices should be designed to attract a diverse candidate pool. A variety of sourcing methods, such as diverse job boards or community organizations, should be utilised. Retention strategies can include mentorship programs, resource groups, or flexible work options to accommodate different needs and lifestyles.
  3. Training and Development: Training programs should not only focus on diversity awareness but also on how to create an inclusive environment. Employees should have access to development opportunities regardless of their background, promoting career advancement for all.
  4. Metrics and Accountability: Establishing clear metrics helps track progress and holds management accountable for achieving diversity goals. Transparency in reporting these metrics demonstrates the company’s commitment to D&I.

Benefits of Diversity and Inclusion in the Hospitality Industry

  1. Enhanced Customer Service: A diverse workforce is more equipped to understand and meet the needs of a diverse customer base. Staff with various backgrounds can communicate effectively with customers from different cultures, languages, or life experiences, providing personalised and inclusive service.
  2. Increased Innovation: Diverse teams bring different ideas and perspectives to the table. This variety stimulates creativity and innovative thinking, which can lead to unique service offerings, marketing strategies, and business solutions.
  3. Improved Employee Engagement: Inclusive workplaces where employees feel valued and heard can boost morale and job satisfaction. This not only improves productivity but also reduces turnover, leading to cost savings.
  4. Stronger Brand Image: Companies committed to D&I are viewed more favorably by consumers and potential employees. This positive perception can improve customer loyalty and talent acquisition.

Exploring the success of restaurants and food businesses that have championed D&I can provide valuable insights for businesses looking to strengthen their own D&I initiatives. Here are two notable examples:

  1. Attica, Australia: Attica, one of Melbourne’s most celebrated restaurants, led by chef Ben Shewry, is an excellent example of a business that prioritises diversity. Hailing from a rural town in New Zealand, Shewry has built a team that reflects a variety of backgrounds, experiences, and cultures. Attica’s staff come from around the globe, including Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas. This rich cultural diversity is reflected in their innovative menu, which often pays homage to native Australian ingredients and traditions. Attica’s focus on creating an inclusive work environment ensures these diverse voices feel valued and heard, fostering a sense of belonging and engagement.


  1. Eat My Lunch, New Zealand: This innovative social enterprise operated with an inclusive and diverse business model. For every lunch purchased, Eat My Lunch provides a meal for a child in need in New Zealand. Founded by Lisa King, an Asian-Kiwi entrepreneur, the company places a high value on inclusivity and social responsibility. Its workforce is diverse, including people of different ethnicities, ages, and socio-economic backgrounds. By aligning its business strategy with its D&I values, Eat My Lunch has not only driven customer loyalty and brand recognition but also made a significant positive impact on the community.


Leveraging Diversity and Inclusion for Success

Both Attica and Eat My Lunch demonstrate how hospitality businesses can harness D&I to drive success. Here are key insights from these examples:

  1. Reflecting Diversity in Products and Services: Attica uses its diverse workforce to inspire its unique menu, which resonates with a multicultural clientele. This approach can inspire other businesses to use diversity as a source of creativity and innovation.
  2. Social Inclusion: By tying its business strategy to a socially inclusive cause, Eat My Lunch has not only differentiated itself from competitors but also fostered a positive, inclusive work environment. This approach can help businesses align their D&I values with their business goals, driving both social impact and business success.
  3. Inclusive Work Environment: Both Attica and Eat My Lunch foster work environments where all employees feel valued and respected. This sense of belonging and engagement can significantly boost employee morale and productivity.

Embracing D&I is not just a moral imperative but a business one. The hospitality industry in Australia and New Zealand is ripe with opportunities to harness diversity and inclusion for business success. As demonstrated by Attica and Eat My Lunch, a strong commitment to D&I can drive innovation, customer satisfaction, employee engagement, and community impact. Therefore, it is essential for businesses in this region to not just adopt D&I initiatives, but to truly champion them, fostering a culture where all employees feel valued, respected, and empowered to contribute to their fullest potential.

Emma Angelino