Paving the Way for Workplace Equity with Union Square Hospitality Group’s Chip Wade — 2022 CEO Summit

During the 2022 CEO Summit, Fred LeFranc, CEO and Chaos Strategist of Results Thru Strategy, guided a conversation with Chip Wade, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, about Conscious Culture, diversity, inclusion, and a way forward for equity in the workplace. 

From this 30-minute segment — packed with insights about leading consciously in the wake of George Floyd’s murder in 2020, how “enlightened hospitality” is an approach that can be applied to all industries, and much more — we have pulled together three points that will help guide your company on its path to creating an equitable future.

Acknowledge the need 

As Fred alludes early into the talk, it is impossible to have a conversation about Conscious Capitalism without fully acknowledging that a conscious business must be inclusive and equitable for all stakeholders. So, what is the first step you should take as a Conscious Leader striving to create a more equitable workforce? 

Chip pulls his answer from the series Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man, hosted by Emmanuel Ocho, who said, “You must first acknowledge that there is a problem so you can take ownership of the problem.” 

From there, begin to educate yourself. As Union Square Hospitality Group ramped up its diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) approach, some assumed that Chip, as a Black CEO, would know the best solutions for the challenges the company faced. Chip responded by saying, “I’m Black, but I don’t know all the answers, so let’s go figure this out together.”

Value diversity — but don’t stop there

Part of Chip’s motivation for creating a diverse workforce is because he values the difference in viewpoint that diversity often brings. “I wanted to surround myself with diverse individuals,” Chip explains. “When you have a culture and an environment where people are allowed to be themselves, I think we serve our workforce better and deliver better results.” Furthermore, Fred and Chip discuss that they strive for their workforces to reflect the cities their companies operate within and that commitment has played a role in their hiring decisions. “Whether you’re Hispanic or Asian, Black or female, a white male — we all have a desire to be part of something, a sense of belonging,” Chip shares. 

Chip’s commitment to diversity guided his conscious choice to hire two women as their Chief Technology Officer and Chief Financial Officer, making Union Square’s C-suite entirely female-led and certainly something to take pride in, but Fred presents an insightful observation. He points out, “I found the diversity part is pretty easy because [we] get to make the decisions, but the inclusion part — that’s up to the people.”

Listen more to build inclusive culture

I think when people are open and vulnerable, then you start to break down barriers, and you start to learn together.”

— Chip Wade

Acknowledging the need for an equitable future, studying the challenges that your company and community face related to DEI, and making business decisions that reflect a commitment to DEI, such as hiring a diverse workforce, all help build a Conscious Culture that can encompass all stakeholders, but there is still one more piece of advice from Chip and Fred: listen

Chip advocates that by beginning a dialogue by listening first, listening to needs, wants, fears, and expectations, we foster meaningful conversations and begin to create a culture of inclusion. “I think when people are open and vulnerable, then you start to break down barriers, and you start to learn together,” Chip shares. 

Fred encourages his employees to, “look around the room.” He continues, “Everyone is different, but now let’s look on the inside and see what we share in common.”

Listening can bring people together in the face of challenges, particularly challenges related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and it is something everyone can do, regardless of their role within a company.

Chip concludes, “Spend meaningful time with your people, really listening…When you begin a conversation where you’re profoundly wanting to learn from your direct reports, it shows compassion.”

Chip’s Conscious Book Recommendations

Registration is open for the 2023 CEO Summit

Conscious Capitalism, Inc. is excited to announce that registration is now open for the 2023 Conscious Capitalism CEO Summit. The CEO Summit is our premier experience for CEOs, presidents, and founders committed to elevating humanity through business. Nominate yourself or a peer to attend →