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One America - Diversity Management

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One America

Program: Diversity Management, Orlando, FL
Contact(s): Samuel E. Mathis, Jr., Vice President: (407) 245-5350
Purpose: To develop and sustain a business environment that recognizes and embraces individual differences among guests, employees, business partners and all others in the community
Background Program Operations Outcomes


The Diversity Management Department was created in May 1996. Since diversity is critical to the ability to excel in an increasingly diverse and dynamic marketplace, Darden Restaurants' top priorities include developing diversity management competencies, linking employee satisfaction to guest satisfaction and increasing local community presence. To achieve these goals, Darden developed diversity tools, benchmarks and performance plans at all levels.

Program Operations

Through diversity training, employee networks, the Community Alliance Project and the Minority Procurement Initiative, Diversity Management enhances diversity at all levels of the Darden organization and in the community in which it operates. Diversity training is introduced in leadership development and its principals include the support of cultural attitudes, multilingual employees and the utilization of "work-life" benefits. These principals are implemented in all areas to manage promotions, planning, performance reviews and compensation analysis. Employee networks are a source of insight for both the company and its employees. Employees learn from their peers and develop leadership, organization and presentation skills by chairing committees. The employee networks recommend changes and improvements. They also help Darden Inc. recruit and advance minorities, while providing cultural insights. The Community Alliance Project is sustained by volunteer participation and financially supports different ethnic communities through corporate and individual memberships in chambers and organizations. The Minority Procurement Initiative ensures the certification of new and existing businesses that are women and minority owned. This initiative also includes joint ventures with minority owned companies, extended contractual arrangements to facilitate start-ups and other mutually beneficial arrangements.

Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments

These programs have allowed Darden to establish diversity as a key part of its corporate business strategy. Diversity training and employee networks evaluate the effectiveness of the corporate diversity initiatives and help Darden to make appropriate adjustments. The Community Alliance Project has allowed Darden to establish a proactive relationship with minority communities and organizations. This relationship increases employee and guest satisfaction and generates new hires and business. The Minority Procurement Initiative allows Darden to develop women and minority vendor relationships. Darden's Diversity Management provides needed economic development for minority business, which impacts communities throughout the country.

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