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A Path Forward

Celebrating the start of a new year provides the perfect opportunity for me to update you on our company’s progress toward sustainable change in the fight for racial equality. In June, I promised our FLIK family that I would not let the continuation of racial injustice pass us by without meaningful actions and that FLIK would lead the way on implementing systemic change. The most notable action we’ve taken is the establishment of an independent body to direct actions enabling the organization to make meaningful and vital change. I’m thrilled to introduce you to FLIK’s Entrepreneurial Council – a small group of impassioned people dedicated to recalibrating our culture.  Although this group is just getting started and will continue to establish and communicate objectives over the coming months, they have created early opportunities for connection that include a thoughtful new approach to Black History Month, the elements of which we will be sharing on the FLIK blog, including a really thoughtful series of podcasts featuring FLIK associates and celebrated African-American chefs.

The Entrepreneurial Council will reimagine how we can turn our hospitality spirit into a force for good in every community we serve because we need tremendous change to address the issues facing people of color today, and we must do it together. I know change will require hard work and at times we will have to address uncomfortable topics, but I’m looking forward to what’s next.

Finally, a note of appreciation to the women and men on the committee who have taken it upon themselves to step up and challenge the status quo, and to help facilitate long overdue change in our company on the basic human right of racial equality.

By Scott Davis, CEO, FLIK Hospitality Group 


Meet Your Entrepreneurial Council

Before we introduce you to the mission of the Entrepreneurial Council and their plan for Black History Month, we’d like to introduce you to the people who are working tirelessly to ensure racial equity is established as a pillar of FLIK’s culture. 

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Erica Lee is a senior director of human resources and mom to two adult sons. In her role as a senior HR leader who focuses exclusively on business development, Erica has visibility into how clients see us and understands the future of FLIK depends on embracing racial equity as a business imperative. Her professional accomplishments in process management, quality assurance and people-related solutions bring change-management chops to the work of Entrepreneurial Council. Erica’s hope is for the Entrepreneurial Council to be FLIK’s North Star on our path from aspirational to accountable, which she believes we will achieve through storytelling, compassion and connection – with results.

Michael Lemon is a corporate division chef who feels deeply what it means to be a Black parent in America in 2020 as he teaches his young adult children how to exist in the world safely. Michael also takes seriously his role of inspiring and developing chefs through mentoring programs and training. He keeps the Entrepreneurial Council focused on creating partnerships with historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) as well as universities that emphasize the education path of Black students so we can be more intentional in the recruitment and development of Black culinarians and leaders. Michael advocates for open and honest dialog about racial equity through connection and compassion – with a focus on real talk.

Rhonda Blake is general manager and director of marketing at Gallaudet University’s Kellogg Conference Hotel, and she is the proud namesake to her 5-year-old granddaughter, Blake. A self-described hippie, Rhonda brings together voices from all walks of life to share experiences that showcase what we have in common as well as how embracing our differences makes us better. Rhonda’s storytelling about her own Trinidadian culture is rich and luxurious; her stories underscore the value of being seen and valued – not just as a diversity box to check, but as a deliberate and intentional effort to make space for Black experiences and the value they bring. Rhonda is dedicated to achieving diversity in leadership that represents our workforce, and she won’t rest until every associate knows they’re at home with us.

Trudy Halliman is an experienced food service director in New York City and doting mom to a young adult son and basketball superstar. Dignity and respect underpin all her interactions, and she takes pride in providing the highest level of hospitality to her external and internal clients – a commitment that earned her a 2015 President’s Circle Award. Trudy’s experience with Compass D&I, FLIK DIAC and NE D&I efforts are the bridge for the Entrepreneurial Council’s partnerships with other groups focused on diversity and inclusion. Dedicated to guiding our organization toward being change-makers in our industry, Trudy uses thorough research engaging storytelling to provide context for where we are, and where we’re going next. Her dedication to creating paths to leadership so Black associates see themselves represented throughout the ranks is present in her advocacy for the career cycle of Black associates, from hire to retirement – and has become the heart of our mission.

Julie Nattis is Waveguide’s director of marketing and communications, though you may know her from FLIK town halls in the spring when she mercilessly muted panelists for minor microphone infractions. Before joining Waveguide, she worked for former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, where she cemented her commitment to public relations for the public good. As a communicator, Julie is passionate about telling stories that promote connection and effect change. Julie grew up in the South, where she developed a deep love for fried okra and a keen understanding of the sinister subtleties of generational racism. As a lifelong beneficiary of a system designed to advantage her, Julie understands how daunting it can be to change behaviors to be more intentional and inclusive – and she has experienced first-hand the joy of doing hard things anyway. She is passionate about overcoming the opportunity gap through economic relief and social supports, and as the mom of two young kids, she takes seriously the responsibility of raising the next generation to leave the world better than we found it.

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The Entrepreneurial Council’s Mission + Vision

Mission: Our mission is to assist FLIK in investing in the career cycle of Black employees – from hire to retirement.

Our mission is simple but focused. The Entrepreneurial Council is committed to assisting FLIK with investing in and improving the employment cycle and experience for Black employees. It’s important to us that the work we do is directly related to the mission, so we can hold ourselves accountable for the work and ensure that we deliver the mission along with the Executive Team.

Vision: The Entrepreneurial Council advances FLIK’s industry leadership by embracing racial equity as a business imperative and pillar of our culture. We seek to close the opportunity gap by intentionally valuing, attracting, retaining, and developing Black workers and leaders.

Our vision is aligned with the company’s vision, which is to advance FLIK as an industry leader. To do that, we have to be a company that embraces racial equity, so it becomes a pillar of our culture. But it is also a business imperative. Now, more than ever, our clients want to know what we’ve done, how we’ve met this moment, and how we are addressing racial injustice within our organization going forward. 

Black History Month @ FLIK

We have to take history seriously. Restaurants are not just feeding people. They’re telling a story, and they’re trying to elicit emotions about connection, about family, about community — about the past or the present.
- Dr. Marcia Chatelain, Georgetown University professor of history and African-American studies

Carter G. Woodson envisioned Black History month as a celebration of the contributions of Black Americans. The February celebration intentionally coincides with the birth dates of two men who were celebrated as change-makers for Black Americans – Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln. Over time, Woodson shifted the focus of the celebration away from just those two men because he believed the Black community should be given space to celebrate the countless Black women and men who contributed to the advancement of human civilization. Black History Month is a celebration of Black humanity, of Black pride, and – in this year with a global pandemic ravaging our communities – of Black resilience.

The challenge of positioning our celebrations within the historical context of Black History Month’s origins led us to reimagining our celebrations for 2021. And this year, more than most, it is crucial that we not ignore the challenges we were faced with in 2020: The global pandemic and a long-overdue reckoning with racial inequalities. So, this Black History Month, FLIK will celebrate Black humanity and showcase Black wellness traditions through storytelling with food and family.

Storytelling is an essential component of our approach because stories are how traditions are shared through the generations, including in our own homes. We centered our storytelling on foods that connect us all and around wellness that we all need to tap into, around the Black family as a legacy-building entity that passes traditions to loved ones with pride and care.

  • Week 1: Everybody Eats
  • Week 2: Everybody Cooks
  • Week 3: Plant-Based Cuisine
  • Week 4: Healthy Comfort Food

The first week, we will showcase how we’re more alike than we are different by featuring a beloved grain everybody eats – rice – and exploring how cultures from the African Diaspora prepare rice dishes, in America and beyond.

Next, we will take a look at the contributions of Black chefs throughout American history to show their impact on American cuisine.

In our third week, we shift our focus from humanity and commonality to Black wellness traditions. We will explore using food as medicine and how plant-based lifestyles support healthy bodies.

We will wrap up our celebration with a look at the origins of traditionally Southern, soul and comfort foods, and how they have evolved over time, regionally and culturally. We will explore how some of those dishes can be made to combat health effects that disproportionally impact communities of color.  

Human rights attorney Chokwe Lumumba is known to have said, “You can’t lead the people if you don’t love the people.” We approached this project with love, and we hope you will, too.

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At FLIK Hospitality Group we believe in great food, great service, and great people. Our wellness first approach ensures our food supports healthy and delicious choices, specially curated by our team of culinary experts and registered dietitians. At FLIK, we believe in seasonality in sourcing our ingredients and providing a customized approach to the culinary and hospitality needs of each client. Our dedication to providing quality hospitality service is unparalleled in the industry.

Have feedback or questions for our team? Email us at flikblog@compass-usa.com.

Interested in working with us? Apply today