Isn’t Variety The Spice Of Life? New Report Shows Lack Of Diversity In The Restaurant Business

May 6, 2013  |  

Many are asking where are the black chefs and the women chefs after viewing the 2013 list of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. And the lack of diversity is not just in the kitchen but across every aspect of the restaurant industry, according to news site RH Reality Check (via The Huffington Post).

“We tend not to realize that diversity is not the same as equity — that simply seeing a lot of restaurant workers from different backgrounds doesn’t mean that restaurant workers have equal opportunities to advance to jobs that will allow them support themselves and their families,” says Saru Jayaraman, director of the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) in her book Behind the Kitchen Door, published earlier this year.

And minorities who are in the business receive lower pay than their white counterparts. “There’s a wage gap of four dollars between white workers and workers of color in the restaurant industry,” Jayaraman explained in an interview with ROC. “We’ve done studies to show that the best-paying jobs in the industry — and there are some good-paying jobs — are held almost exclusively by white workers.”

Women too are overlooked—and are paid less. A 2010 report called “Waiting on Equality: The Role and Impact of Gender in the New York City Restaurant Industry” conducted by the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United revealed that women of color are largely segregated by segment in the restaurant industry with 38.5 percent of black women, 33.3 percent of Asian women, and 44.1 percent of Latina women surveyed working in the low-paying quick service sector. Men held 67 percent of Tier I front-of-the-house positions; women held only 32 percent, according to the report.  Women of color earn just 70 cents for every dollar paid to men and just 64 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data.

“Women of color are hard hit by a kind of perfect –- and perfectly devastating –- storm caused by discrimination, a struggling economy and the country’s failure to adopt family friendly workplace policies,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, in a release. The Partnership is working to close the wage gap.

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