Ruby Tuesday, Inc. (“RTI”) takes its ethical standing quite seriously. To that end, RTI makes no differentiation between the ethics it expects its employees to follow and the ethics that apply to upper management and owners. RTI’s belief is that no matter where an individual affiliated with RTI is on the company spectrum there is an equal responsibility of that individual to uphold RTI’s ethical code. While the Code of Business Conduct and Ethics (the “Code”) contains over 10 guidelines all of equal importance, sections II(1)(A), harassment and discrimination and II(7) are significant enough in and of themselves to warrant further explanation.
First, relative to harassment and discrimination, it is imperative that every stakeholder of RTI is treated equally and without discrimination. This not only holds true because it is a violation of law (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 1964) but because we have a duty of respect and dignity to each other as humans. Furthermore, every stakeholder is free from any harassment or similar derogatory treatment in whatever dealings he or she may have with RTI. It is public opinion that makes RTI successful and it is public opinion that can put the company out of business. Public opinion is not only the public, per se. The public is all RTI’s stakeholders – employees, managers, owners, shareholders, vendors, and, of course, its customers. Nevertheless, every stakeholder deserves a fair and compassionate encounter when the encounter is with RTI or any RTI representative.
One of the ways RTI can ensure such encounters is by making all of its stakeholders aware of the expectation. Upon the commencement of association between RTI and employees, management, or owners, two copies of the Code are disseminated with one copy to be signed and returned as acknowledgement of receipt. For training purposes, RTI sets up a pretend stakeholder situation the presents an ethical conundrum which must be handled by RTI staff or management. This fictional scenario usually involves at least one manager, one vendor, and several employees. Mishandling the situation does not result in termination; however, it is one way for RTI to be kept aware of the level of understanding and awareness its representatives have of the Code. These dramatizations are not meant to embarrass or single out anybody, but to help RTI maintain value for guests and an ethical working environment for its employees.
The second area regards confidentiality. Some RTI employees may dismiss this section as not pertaining to them. However, as with the rest of the Code, all RTI representatives are at risk of violating portions of the Code, including the section on confidentiality. Confidential or propriety information relates to any information which is not publicly known and is directly related to RTI’s business or products. That includes, but is not limited to, recipes, tests, financial data, and future potential menus. RTI gets a certain competitive advantage from some of its proprietary information and determines when, how, and if that information is distributed. Proprietary information is considered the property of RTI and, as such, owned by RTI. Without sounding melodramatic, a breach of confidentiality is akin to thievery or stealing any of RTI’s hard assets. RTI has dedicated many years and hard work to fine tuning certain recipes and overall menu planning. RTI considers this proprietary information one of its most valuable assets. The Code directs that no proprietary information be discussed with anybody at any time. However, in order to keep RTI trade secrets safe, a good rule of thumb is to avoid any communication(s) involving any of RTI’s behind-the-scenes operations, as sometimes it is difficult to discern where public and proprietary information begin and end. If nothing that is not already in the public’s view is not discussed, the integrity of RTI’s business practices remain protected.
In line with internal corporate governance, RTI maintains a strong position on external corporate governance or corporate social responsibility (“CSR”). That is, RTI cares about its corporate footprint on the community. To that end, RTI is determined to give back or leave a positive footprint in the community that supports it, which goes a long way towards sustainability, the long-term survival of the business and satisfied stakeholders (Lynn, 2009).
RTI has developed three ways in which its impact on the community is positive or less negative. First, RTI will have training sessions for the unemployed in the area of server, kitchen staff, and hosts. It will be referred to as “A Year of Tuesdays.” Any unemployed individual can come into RTI any day of the week and sign up for a two-day training program (on site) with the promise of learning the requisite skills for one of the RTI restaurant positions as they become available. These individuals will learn the skills necessary to have a good chance to compete with any other applicant for any of the kitchen or server job openings.
Second, the food product waste generated as the result of any restaurant business will be not only donated but delivered to several of the local pig farmers or other animal farms. The farmers will incur no expense and RTI will make these deliveries three times per week reducing landfill waste and supporting the local farming industry.
Finally, RTI will support the local art galleries by displaying local arts and crafts on a bimonthly basis in the waiting area, bar ,and table sections. RTI believes in the importance of business-in-support-of-business relationships in the community and strives to make those ties stronger by encouraging RTI customers to become customers of other business ventures nearby.
RTI’s internal Code combined with its program to support CSR result in a balanced, sustainable, community-friendly company. Not only does RTI have a healthy working environment but treats its external stakeholders with just as much importance and commitment.
Lynn, C. (2009). Corporate social responsibility in the hospitality industry. Phoenix: School of Hotel and Restaurant Management.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (1964).