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Denny's CEO is proud of its diverse board and number of minority-owned franchises

Brian Sozzi
·Editor-at-Large
·2 min read
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Long-time Denny’s CEO John Miller should start a side hustle advising big companies on ways to improve diversity and detailing why it’s truly important.

Because he has gotten it done at Denny’s (DENN) on the diversity front in his almost 10 years at the helm of what is known as America’s Diner. Denny’s — which boasts 1,700 restaurants around the world — is now 50% operated by minority franchisees. Meanwhile, more than 50% of the company’s board are minorities and 30% are women. Miller himself is the vice chairman of Wilberforce University, considered to be one of the nation’s oldest private Black colleges.

For Miller, driving strong efforts around diversity have always made sense.

“It comes down to purpose and commitment. You have to set the right values at the top and measure against those. Like anything in business, if you’re goal-oriented you can hit the mark. We should have a majority of minority ownership and it should be reflected in the board and through our restaurants. We’re committed to that and proud of what is going on at Denny’s as a result,” Miller said on Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade.

Take Denny’s approach to diversity, menu innovation and order ahead technology and you can see why the stock is up 140% under Miller’s watch. The stock had been up more than 500% through late 2019 according to Yahoo Finance Premium data, but has cooled off amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A large sign marks a Denny's restaurant, Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017, in Cranberry, Pa.(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
A large sign marks a Denny's restaurant, Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017, in Cranberry, Pa.(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Domestic same-store sales at Denny’s fell 6.3% in the first quarter as the COVID-19 crisis started to kick into gear. For the week-ended May 6 — the last time Denny’s shared financial information — domestic same-store sales dropped 68% with restaurants being primarily closed.

Miller didn’t share updated financials in the interview. But, he did note that off-premise sales continue to be strong and restaurants have begun to reopen. The company is preparing to meet the return of business by hiring 10,000 new workers.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and co-anchor of The First Trade at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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