Restaurants, Experts Meet to Make the Case for Sustainability

Restaurant companies came to the National Restaurant Association Sustainability Executive Study Group meeting to learn about the issue’s effect on employee engagement, among other things.

Sustainability experts in the restaurant industry came together recently to participate in our second Annual Sustainability Executive Study Group meeting.

The meeting, held April 3-4, featured presentations from sustainability thought leaders at Chick-fil-A and Darden Restaurants, among others. Making the business case for sustainability, the correlation between sustainability programs at work and employee engagement, an update on animal welfare and the state of sustainable sourcing in the industry were among the topics of discussion.

Max Elder of Institute for the Future spoke to the group about the urgent future of sustainability. He noted that one of the most important things restaurateurs need to know is that consumers want to understand the connections between their food, their health, the environment and the conditions in which the food is produced. He also said advances in technology are going to change the how and where diners consume their food.

One panel during the meeting focused on the relationship between sustainability engagement at work and employee satisfaction. A couple of key insights indicated that:

  • 76% of employees at companies with sustainability programs agreed with the statement: “my company is making a positive impact in the world, while 62 percent at companies without sustainability programs agreed with the statement. That’s a difference of 14%, which indicates a direct correlation between sustainability programs and improved employee engagement.
  • 86% of employees at companies with sustainability programs said they are somewhat or very excited about their work, compared with 79% at companies that don’t participate in sustainability programs.

Laura Abshire, our director of sustainability policy, said seeing so many restaurant companies come together to discuss these important issues was gratifying. “As consumer interest in environmental sustainability continues to increase, it’s evident that restaurant companies are paying attention and taking action.”

Learn more about the National Restaurant Association’s Executive Study Groups. For more information about sustainability at restaurants, visit our Conserve program