Shake Shack Wants Half its Leadership to be People of Color

    The chain is using a new developmental program to increase diversity.

    Fast Casual | April 30, 2021 | Ben Coley
    Shake Shack employee with a mask.
    Shake Shack
    People of color make up 75.6 percent of the overall workforce, but only 19.6 percent of home office leadership.

    Shake Shack is striving to increase diversity among its highest leadership ranks, which is disproportionately white.

    The brand released the figures in its annual Stand for Something Good report. People of color make up 75.6 percent of the overall workforce, but only 34.7 percent of Shack leadership (general manager, senior general manager, area director, and regional vice president of operations) and just 19.6 percent of home office leadership (director, senior director, vice president, and senior vice president). The group makes up 58.5 percent of Shack management (shift manager, manager, and assistant general manager). The report highlighted a 77 percent hiring rate for people of color and a 76 percent promotion rate. 

    In addition, women comprise 53 percent of Shake Shack’s workforce, but 23.7 percent of Shack leadership and 49 percent of home office leadership. The company showed a 52 percent hiring rate for women and a 56 percent promotion rate.  

    The chain is looking to change these figures going forward. By 2025, the company aims to have 50 percent people of color in Shack leadership and 30 percent in home office leadership roles. Although Shake Shack didn’t assign a numerical goal for female representation, it did note that it wants “gender parity” in Shack leadership and home office leadership roles. 

    “Ensuring that our candidate slates for Shack and Home Office leadership roles always include women and people of color is an important part of our strategy to have diverse leadership at all levels with the company,” Shake Shack said in its report. “We are actively developing new partnerships with minority and women focused organizations such as the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality and Historically Black Colleges and Universities to help fuel this pipeline.”

    Throughout 2020, Shake Shack dedicated resources toward diversity and inclusion, including a dedicated diversity, equity, and inclusion function within the People Resources Department, the creation of four Employee Resource Groups to drive cultural awareness and foster community, and the launch of the Stand Together Series, an “all-company diversity educational forum used to drive dialogue and foster a more inclusive workplace.”

    To meet its diversity and representation goals, the company will leverage its Shift Up program, a new developmental initiative for entry-level management. Shake Shack said 75 percent of its inaugural Shift Up class are people of color and women. The next class launches this summer, and the brand is committing to more inclusion of minorities to “diversity and strengthen” its leadership pipeline.