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George Floyd, Now What? How Restaurant Associates Is Building Inclusive and Sustainable Change at Scale
Episode 218th December 2023 • The Change Podcast by Reframe • Jeffrey L. Bowman
00:00:00 00:10:11

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Are you wondering how to build inclusive and sustainable change at scale in your company? 

Discover how Reframe helped Courtney Willis, the Vice President of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging, and Culture at Restaurant Associates, navigate the aftermath of George Floyd's murder and create impactful change.

Courtney Willis shares her journey of realizing the need for change within her organization. As an experienced operator in the food management industry, she initially hesitated to get involved in diversity and inclusion efforts. 

However, the events of 2020, particularly the murder of George Floyd, sparked a realization that something more needed to be done. Courtney recognized the opportunity to make a significant impact on the entire company, beyond just cultural celebrations and menuing.

Courtney's decision to partner with Reframe was a game-changer. Unlike other consultants who focused on programming and statements, Reframe offered a unique change management approach. They conducted an in-depth assessment, interviewing employees from frontline associates to the C-suite. This process pushed the company's buttons and challenged their concept of DEI, going beyond unconscious bias. Reframe held them accountable and ensured that diversity, equity, and inclusion became a business strategy, not just a nice-to-have HR initiative.

The results speak for themselves. Courtney's position as the Vice President of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging, and Culture was created, reporting directly to the Chief Operating Officer. This demonstrates the company's commitment to making DEI a core part of their operations. 

With Reframe's guidance, Restaurant Associates has embraced intersectionality and continuously navigated the complexities of employee segmentation. Legal involvement and thorough vetting have ensured a safe and effective process.

Don't miss out on the opportunity to learn from Courtney Willis and Restaurant Associates' journey with Reframe. Discover how Reframe helped Courtney and her team create impactful change in their company. 

What You’ll Learn From this Episode

  • Witness the positive outcome of Courtney's partnership with Reframe, including the creation of her position as the Vice President of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging, and Culture, and the hiring of additional staff to support her efforts.
  • Witness the challenges Courtney faced in implementing change and the resistance she encountered from the executive committee.
  • Find out how Reframe's assessment and workshops helped Courtney and her team gain a deeper understanding of the issues and the need for a comprehensive approach.
  • Discover the importance of holding organizations accountable for diversity and inclusion initiatives and how Reframe helped Courtney's company establish a business strategy for DEI.


“…having a partner like Reframe helps hold us accountable. It's not just a nice-to-have anymore; it's a must-have for our organization.”- Courtney Willis


Topics Covered:

02:30 -  Introducing Courtney Willis, the first Vice President of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging, and Culture.

03:00  -  Decision to seek external help with Reframe, From Food Management to Cultural Transformation: How One Company Took a Bold Step

03:24 -  After the murder of George Floyd, it was realized that more needed to be done.

03:44 -  Decision to contract with Reframe due to their change management approach.

04:58 -  Restaurant Associates’ desire to have impact and drive change within the restaurant industry. It was recognized that diversity and inclusion is not just about people, but also community engagement and vendor management.

06:28 -  Recognition that diversity and inclusion is not just about people, but also community engagement and vendor management.

07:13 -  Courtney Willis appreciating Reframe's ability to push and hold the partner client/ company accountable. Discussion around Intersectionality and the Power of Employee Segmentation and navigating a Delicate Balance

07:39 -   Restaurant Associates’ realization that diversity and inclusion is not just a nice-to-have, but a necessity.

09:37 -  A Transformational Journey: Creating a Dedicated DEI Team, Restaurant Associates recognizing that one person cannot drive diversity and inclusion alone.


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