Deep into the Jim Crow south and along segregated New Deal programs, The Green Frog welcomed its tables to everyone. In 1938, Bill Darden, founder of Red Lobster and Olive Garden restaurants, opened this first restaurant with the tagline”service with a hop.”
His defiance against local segregation laws was at a time where practically all businesses, jail cells, mental hospitals, parks, barber shops, or drinking fountains were segregated. As Darden’s restaurant enterprise grew, its commitment to being a leader in diversity by mirroring its labor pool with the cultural fabric of the local community became clear.
It is easy to look back and praise and move on, but easier to minimize the challenges that Darden had to face in defying status quo.
Small business leadership does not have to be standing up against an unjust law facing risk of prosecution, but it could be as simple as providing a balanced work life to your employees or leading volunteer initiatives within the community.