By: Kristen Cavanagh, Neighbourhood Group of Companies
We are so happy to announce that the Neighbourhood Group of Companies is officially a certified B Corp! The Woolwich Arrow Pub, Borealis Grille & Bar Kitchener, Borealis Grille & Bar Guelph and Miijidaa Café + Bistro have just added 4 restaurants to the 3 existing certified B Corps in Canada. That may not sound like a lot but considering before we certified, there were only 13 restaurants in the world, this is actually huge! Canada now has the most certified B Corp restaurants on Earth!
The implementation of several initiatives is what has brought us to this point of certifying and we are so happy it has. We have already started thinking about new initiatives we can implement in order to continually improve ourselves and create a bigger impact on the community and society. Just completing the assessment, and knowing we must complete it every two years, has brought to light many more issues we need to resolve and be better at. Many of the themes we will be focusing on moving forward find themselves in the “workers” category of the B Corp Certification; pay equity and female presence.
A major issue that needs to be addressed in the industry is the pay inequity between our team members working in the heart of house (kitchen) and those working in the front of house serving guests. We have people going to post secondary school with goals and aspirations to be a chef and work in a kitchen, only to throw in the towel sometimes a year after graduating as they realize they cannot live on the wages provided. On the other end of the spectrum, we often have people wanting to work in the restaurant serving to “make good money and make it fast”. There should not be such a gap between the two and the hard work in the kitchen needs to be recognized. So how do we change this model that seems to be ingrained in the mind’s of so many? How do we make the pay structure, which is in part paid by the consumer in “tips” more equal to all working in the restaurant? We do not know yet but all we know, is we need to find a way to change.
Another issue we see in the restaurant industry is the presence of women in executive positions within organizations. When comparing the number of women in entry level positions (servers, bartenders, hostesses) to women in senior executive roles, it is alarming the difference you see; a higher percentage of women are in entry level positions while men take the lead when you get to the top of the pyramid. One reason we believe this might be is a type of ceiling for women when they decide they would like to have a family and take time for maternity leave. Often managers or operators are required to be working all sorts of hours so it is a struggle to strike a balance between parenthood and work life. With our restaurants in particular, we do have a large percentage of women in management roles however this has not filtered in to the executive positions apart from one managing partner in one of our restaurants. With a huge percentage of our target market being women, it is so important to have a female voice when making decisions on marketing, menu development, staff policies, etc.
We see these problems in the industry as a challenge to improve and an opportunity to provide a better work environment for all our workers. In order to hold ourselves accountable to working towards these goals, each restaurant has created a ‘B’ Team that meets once a month. This team is comprised of management as well as part-time and full-time workers. Each meeting, a different component of the B Corp Certification is highlighted and discussed; environment, workers, community, governance, etc. Workers have a chance to voice their opinions and ideas on the company’s existing policies and on plans for the future. We have already seen great ideas implemented that have stemmed from our first few meetings and we can see an engaged workforce that is becoming more interested in how we can be better.
Please check out our B Corp profile here! https://www.bcorporation.net/community/neighbourhood-group-of-companies