Mobile App Includes New Crowd-Sourcing and Racial-Justice Focused Features to Engage Consumers in Calling for Change in the Restaurant Industry
Today, Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United releases a new version of its Diners Guide to Ethical Eating mobile app. The app, available on iOS and Android, lists wages and labor standards for the most popular national chain restaurants, as well as “high road” restaurants — restaurant employers that pay significantly more than the regular and tipped minimum wage, provide paid sick days, and/or exhibit a commitment to internal-promotion policies in accordance with ROC’s high road standards.
The 2015 version boasts a total of 148 high-road restaurants, up from 85 last year and a 228% increase since the inception of the Diner’s Guide in 2012. The majority of high-road restaurants listed are in cities where ROC has a local office, including Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, Houston, New Orleans, Miami, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, Washington D.C., and Boston.
“Increasingly, a restaurant’s starting wage is just as important to customers as what’s on the menu,” said Saru Jayaraman, co-founder and co-director of ROC United. “Our app makes it easier for consumers to choose restaurants based on how they treat their employees. We already know what consumers are capable of when it comes to food — over the past few years, we’ve seen a consumer-driven food revolution that has pressured even the biggest companies, like Walmart, to offer organic and locally sourced food, and Starbucks’ making fair-trade coffee widely available. This app is part of ROC’s consumer engagement strategy to build consumer power to improve wages and labor standards for restaurant workers.”
This year, new features are available in the app to highlight the restaurant industry’s occupational segregation problem. Although the restaurant industry is the largest employer of people of color, white workers, and a disproportionate amount of white males, hold the vast majority of both management and non-management living-wage jobs, such as servers and bartenders in fine-dining establishments.
This year’s edition introduces a survey feature that allows ‘fine-dining’ restaurant customers to document their observations about employees in the ‘front-of-house’ positions. This crowdsourced data will supplement ROC United’s existing academically rigorous studies conducted on occupational segregation, which will ultimately shape proposals for how to address the problem of racial segregation in restaurant jobs, both through employer interventions and policy solutions.
In addition, users will be able to submit new restaurants to be listed publicly in the app. Because the app’s current restaurant listings focus primarily on cities with a local ROC office, this function will allow users to significantly grow the app’s reach so that “high-road” restaurants in cities across the U.S. will eventually be listed in the app.
Finally, users are encouraged to model their Yelp! reviews using the language available throughout the app, particularly to leave reviews for ‘fine-dining’ restaurants that highlight the lack of workers of color in higher paid front-of-the-house positions. The app also integrates with Twitter, enabling users to tweet directly to a restaurant to express their support for internal-promotion policies and overcoming occupational segregation.
The Diners Guide to Ethical Eating app is a component of ROC’s employer engagement efforts. RAISE, Restaurants Advancing Industry Standards in Employment, is a ROC founded association of more than 115 restaurant owners and managers committed to committed to improving wages and labor standards.
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