LeadersUp’s Employer Spotlight Series highlights companies that are helping to end the youth unemployment crisis in the United States and, at the same time, achieve organizational success by building a pipeline of qualified, diverse young adult talent. We asked Marie Davis, manager of National Recruitment Programs and Partnerships for Chipotle, how and why the international food juggernaut became a champion for Opportunity Youth.

"In my role I also train and educate our field-recruiting strategists and operations team on the importance of partnering with community-based organizations to create a sustainable and exceptional recruitment and retention culture in each of our 2000+ restaurants.”

Marie Davis, Manager of National Recruitment Programs & Partnership, Chipotle

Chipotle’s “hire from within” approach to cultivating talent offers a culture of inclusivity and openness that has attracted high-performing individuals of all ages, including young adults, who account for 40% of its U.S. workforce. Chipotle has invested in hiring Opportunity Youth for entry to mid-skill level opportunities through partnerships with LeadersUp and the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative, an employer-led movement launched by Starbucks and leading U.S. companies to connect 100,000 Opportunity Youth to career pathways. As a 100K Initiative partner, Chipotle recruits Opportunity Youth at hiring fairs across the country.

To find out about the impetus for the 100K Initiative partnership, discover tips to expand recruitment efforts and business benefits for connecting Opportunity Youth to employment through 100K hiring events, we spoke with Marie Davis, manager of National Recruitment Programs & Partnerships at Chipotle Mexican Grill.


LeadersUp: What motivated Chipotle to support the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative?

Marie Davis: The initiative is about providing opportunities to others and ensuring that they are set up for success. This is part of our culture at Chipotle. It’s who we are and what we stand for in each of our restaurants. It is not only about hiring crew members, it is about hiring our future leaders. In order for this to happen, Chipotle is committed to providing our hires with the training and mentoring needed for career success. Many of the Opportunity Youth in the 100K Initiative possess the 13 characteristics we are seeking: ambitious, motivated, curious, polite, smart, honest, respectful, hospitable, conscientious, presentable, happy, infectiously enthusiastic, and high energy.

LeadersUp: Why are high-volume on-the-spot hiring events, such as the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative, critical for employers like Chipotle to participate in?

Marie Davis: These events allow Chipotle to attract and hire talent for several restaurants in one central location versus having to participate in many job fairs for individual restaurant locations. It allows our managers and recruiters to think strategically about where additional hires are needed, what schedules need to be filled, and how these new hires are going to be best set up for success. Chipotle also uses these events to bring managers from various restaurants together to calibrate on interviewing and hiring best practices, as well as to find ways to share resources in hiring great talent.

LeadersUp: What advice would you have for employers that are interested in participating in these events but may be unsure about the best way to get started?

Marie Davis: There are so many benefits:

– Observe an event prior to signing up. This doesn’t have to be a large regional event. It might just be reaching out to your local Opportunity Youth CBO and participating in a hiring fair to get to know the young adults, learn more about the overall program, demographics and needs of the young adults (full-time/part-time/training/internships, etc.) and the organization.

– If you are a recruiter or in HR, bring someone from operations to an event or local CBO so they can learn firsthand about the available programs and 100K Initiatives.

– Talk to other companies who are participating. Find out what has worked or what strategies and processes they have changed or were enhanced and how to make the most of the programs.

Young adult participating in Chipotle’s career exploration table at 100,000 Opportunities Initiative hiring event in Los Angeles in October 2016.

LeadersUp: Describe the caliber of talent you interacted with at the hiring event. Are there any young adults who stood out who now work at Chipotle?

Marie Davis: The young adults who interviewed with us at the 100K Initiative hiring events were the type of employees you want in your company, with or without specific on-the-job experience. While not every candidate is a perfect fit, their participation in this type of an event showcases their commitment, dedication and ambition to work hard and better their lives. The stories and experiences they shared were inspirational but also, at times, heartbreaking. As recruiters and managers, you learn just as much from the young adults as they learn from you. These qualities come from their life experiences and are at the core of any successful candidate. For example, I provided my card to a young lady who had a second interview at a restaurant after I had sent her on to the manager. She actually sent me an email thanking me because she had been hired. She is someone who needed a fresh start and I was excited to see that Chipotle provided that job to her.

LeadersUp: What are some actions that would help employers expand their impact following the conclusion of such hiring events?

Marie Davis: My advice to all employers who participate is to network with the community organizations during and after the hiring event. These are the people who can act on your behalf as advocates and promote your company. They can also promote your company’s hiring opportunities long after the event is over. Schedule meetings with regional or local community organizations as a followup and highlight the young adults you hired from their organization. This will make your work and company’s impact last longer than a one-day event.

LeadersUp: What are some opportunities at Chipotle that young adults may be unaware of that make Chipotle a great place for career growth?

Marie Davis: There are so many opportunities for young adults who join the Chipotle team, especially those who understand the importance of strengthening skills and continuing academic advancement. Qualified employees can receive educational benefits and college credits while working at Chipotle, in addition to health and vacation benefits and the potential to grow into a management role.

LeadersUp: How can community organizations that focus on preparing young adults for employment strengthen their relationships with employers, especially as it relates to talent needs?

Marie Davis: I think this is an opportunity for community-based organizations and employers, so my answer would be that CBOs need to let us know that they exist. The most difficult part of my job is actually finding which organizations are out there providing services and programs to Opportunity Youth. On that same note, more employers need to be raising their hands to say that they are interested in hiring. The gap between CBOs that provide talent development services to Opportunity Youth and employers looking to hire needs to be closed. I am hopeful that both sides are getting closer to building that bridge for our young adults.

The food service industry is constantly evolving in how it engages consumers, so there is no surprise for the need to innovate how restaurants engage potential talent. Chipotle understands this and knows that investing in its employees is an investment in its overall success. Sustainable talent pipelines represent consistent service, fully supported teams and satisfied customers. Chipotle’s support of the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative proves that businesses can achieve this with qualified young adults, without having to sacrifice talent or their values. Visit www.100kopportunities.org for the latest updates on upcoming hiring events across the country.

Is your company interested in being featured in our Spotlight Series? We want to hear from you. Please contact Katie Ho at Katie@LeadersUp.org

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