Tips For A More Diverse Team and Clientele

A medium sized group of friends enjoying a couple of drinks after work.

The benefits of diversity can boost your bar’s bottom line and fuel innovation on your team. How do you recruit and retain a more diverse team and create a more inclusive environment for your staff and your customers?

New York mixologist and on-trade consultant Elayne Duff offered up several tips during her May 21 session at the National Restaurant Association’s annual conference in Chicago.

1) Show respect for every member of team.  Embrace everyone’s differences equally and publically reward them for their success. “It cost nothing and means everything,” Duff said.


2) Give staff the ability to contribute to important decisions.  For instance, when you’re creating a new cocktail menu, let everyone contribute a drink recipe. Even if you don’t use a submitted recipe, Duff said, “you can work with them on why you didn’t,” and how to improve on it for next time.

3) See your bar from your staff’s and customers’ points of view.  Is there anything that might be offensive for women, gay or transgender people, or difficult for guests in wheelchairs?


4) Fight against unconscious bias every day.  Google has free training for unconscious bias, Duff said. You can train a lead person and have them educate the others.

5) Start with one thing.  You might change the pronouns on your job applications or the sign on the bathroom doors, Duff said. She pointed to the Up & Up bar in New York, which has a sign on the restroom door that says “Bathroom for humans.”

6) Keep listening, learning and continuing the diversity conversation.  There’s no one answer for every company, Duff said, so don’t give up.

Aim to boost all diversity, from gender, race, age to country of origin and even social class, both behind and in front of your bar. “If you’re willing to do the hard work now, you and your team will be more successful,” she said.