- Chipotle announced a pair of initiatives Feb. 16 that intend to provide "a purposeful remote work experience" for employees, the restaurant chain said in a statement.
- The company launched United Network of Influencers Furthering Inclusion and Ethnic Diversity (UNIFIED), its first employee resource group (ERG) to be founded entirely within a virtual setting. The group's goal is to "advance an equal opportunity environment," and it will support a minority mentorship program and hold virtual roundtable discussions as well as quarterly training to promote workplace diversity and inclusion, according to the statement.
- Additionally, Chipotle brought on board Udemy for Business as part of its learning and development offerings suite for certain groups of employees, including full-time restaurant support center employees, team directors and field leaders.
Learning and development can significantly impact workplace equity, according to sources who previously spoke to HR Dive. Employers may take steps to determine whether managers are supporting employees of color, for example, or whether such employees are receiving the training, promotion and mentorship opportunities they need to advance their careers.
It is not the first time Chipotle has acted to make talent development more accessible. Last year, the company expanded its debt-free college degree program for employees to include a historically Black college, Paul Quinn College, in partnership with Guild Education. In a statement accompanying the news, Chipotle said workers who use the benefit were "seven and a half times more likely" to move into a management position.
The decision to create an ERG in a remote environment is also interesting in light of research into remote work's impact on employee belonging. A survey published in September 2020 by workplace communication platform Slack found more than one-third of global office workers said their sense of belonging at work was worse as a result of remote work, even as many reported financial benefits.
"Our employees are seeking real connection more than ever before, and it's our responsibility to cultivate an environment where they can continue to thrive and pursue their passions with likeminded co-workers, even in a virtual setting," Marissa Andrada, chief diversity, inclusion and people officer at Chipotle, said in the statement. The company said UNIFIED and its other ERGs are similarly promoting company culture while employees are remote, with one group, Chipotle Wellness, promoting Chipotle's mental health and virtual fitness benefits.
Global L&D professionals saw their roles grow to become even more integral to organizational pandemic response. A 2020 survey by LinkedIn found that 64% of such professionals said training employees to fill skills gaps was even more of a priority for their organizations than before the pandemic.
But skill needs have changed as well. Sources recently told HR Dive that upskilling and reskilling will be needed to train employees on concepts including coding, web development and data analytics. And though many organizations have adapted to remote work, L&D can still assist managers and employees to operate effectively in a remote environment.