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If You Want to Join a Franchise That Is Truly Diverse, These Are the Top 100 to Consider These franchises are putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to inclusivity.

By Tracy Stapp Herold Edited by Frances Dodds

This story appears in the September 2023 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Franchisors are increasingly recognizing the value of promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), both at the corporate level and within their franchisee ranks, and they're finding creative ways to do so. To honor those brands that we think are doing it best, we've created our ranking of the top 100 franchises for diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Unlike most of our other rankings, which rely on objective data run through a formula, this more subjective list has been determined editorially — and for that reason, rather than being numbered, the brands are listed alphabetically. Each brand had to opt into consideration for the list and provide us with as much information as possible to help us make our choices. Factors we considered include: incentives to help franchisees from underrepresented groups join the system; diversity among franchisees; diversity within the leadership team; and other programs or initiatives undertaken related to DEI.

Related: The 50 Franchise Companies Doing the Most to Champion Diversity

We spoke to a few of the brands on the list to get to know more about how they're advancing DEI within their organizations, and what advice they would give to other franchisors who want to do the same. Make sure you dig deeper to get to know any franchise brand you're interested in as well. This list is not intended as an endorsement of any particular opportunity, so it's important to do your own thorough due diligence before investing. That should include reading the company's legal documents, consulting with a lawyer and an accountant, and talking to as many franchisees as you can.

"Be Open to Honest Conversations"

Inside Anywhere Real Estate's inclusivity program.

Anywhere Real Estate's Inclusive Ownership Program launched in 2020 through its Coldwell Banker brand, and then expanded to the company's other brands (Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, Century 21 Real Estate, Corcoran, ERA, and Sotheby's International Realty) the next year. The program offers support to women, ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+ individuals, and military veterans interested in joining any of Anywhere's brands, including reduced startup fees, mentorship programs, and a tailored professional development program called Accelerate. We asked Sue Yannacone, Anywhere's president and CEO, to tell us more.

What was the motivation behind starting this program?

We believe as a company that representation matters. It matters within the workplace and within the consumer population we serve: homebuyers and sellers. So this program really helps us foster that balance, to ensure that we have business owners that represent the communities they serve.

What results have you seen so far?

As of June, 99 companies have come to us through the Inclusive Ownership Program, and of those, 26 have graduated from the Accelerate program. And we're seeing stellar performance out of them. What's really exciting is it crosses all of our brands and all diversity dimensions, so we're really serving a growing need.

What advice would you give other franchisors looking to do more for DEI?

Be crystal clear on your "why." And be really open to having honest conversations. Get educated from others in the communities you're trying to serve; don't assume what they need.

Then, create robust, full-service programs that are well-funded, well-supported, and believed in from the top down. I think you've got to go a lot further than just checking some boxes or offering a financial incentive. You have to commit to the life cycle of the franchisee's business performance, because that's where the real long-term benefit comes.

"Understand That It's a Journey"

Inside Batteries Plus' inclusivity program.

We spoke with Jackie Luedtke, Batteries Plus' vice president of human resources and head of the company's Horizons Initiative, to learn how the battery-store brand is working to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion — and more.

What is Horizons?

Horizons is the umbrella for many different programs for employees of our corporate distribution center and corporate stores. We have a mentorship program with senior leaders mentoring employees. We have business resource groups — a women's empowerment group, veterans group, BOLD (Black Originators, Leaders, and Doers) group, wellness group, and Pride group. And we've also added stewardship and philanthropy elements, so we offer paid time off to do volunteer work, we have an associate relief fund, and we make charitable contributions.

What results have you seen from these programs?

We have certainly seen a higher level of engagement. There used to be the old mantra that you had to leave your personal life at the door. But we know that for you to contribute fully at work, you have to be fully at work, which means your whole self.

What advice would you give other franchisors looking to do more for DEI?

Understand that it is a journey. Even two and a half years in, I'd still consider us to be in the early stages. We've come a long way, but we have a long way to go. You're not going to hit a home run right away. So we have to be patient with ourselves, and learn from others. It's been great, because so many other companies and individuals are willing to share their learning experiences. It's not a competition.

"Set Clear Goals and Stay Committed"

Inside Servpro's inclusivity programs.

Servpro launched its Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) Program in 2020 with the creation of two corporate employee resource groups—the Servpro Women's Initiative and One Spectrum. This year the company took another step by launching its DEIB Alliance Council. Maribeth Bearfield, Servpro's senior vice president and chief human resources officer, shares details on these programs with us.

What do your two employee resource groups do?

The Women's Initiative was created to be a professional community that empowers women to identify, pursue, and achieve their full potential. To date, it has hosted 14 professional or personal development events and participated in eight community outreach events, and since its inception, Servpro has increased female representation by 4%.

One Spectrum was launched to aid in fostering a community for teammates of color at Servpro. The hope is that by starting conversations about DEIB, the group can help improve workplace culture for all employees, and in turn, increase engagement. The group has also dedicated itself to establishing meaningful connections with nonprofit organizations in the area.

Why was the DEIB Alliance launched?

The DEIB Alliance was started because Servpro recognizes that success is better achieved when people with different backgrounds and a variety of experiences, perspectives, and ideas come together and introduce new ways of thinking and problem-solving. It is comprised of members of the headquarters team, who are diverse in position, background, and more. They're dedicated to fostering a work environment in which individuals feel valued, their perspectives are acknowledged, and they have a sense of belonging.

What advice would you give other franchisors looking to do more for DEI?

Set clear goals and stay committed to them. Put intentional effort into being inclusive at each opportunity to do so.

"Education Is Really the Foundation"

Inside Skyhawks & SuperTots Sports Academy's inclusivity programs.

Chelsie Hawley is the executive director of Skyhawks Sports' nonprofit arm, Skyhawks Rise, which is dedicated to ensuring all youth have equitable opportunities to participate in sports. She also facilitates the company's equity committee, which covers its sister brand, SuperTots, as well. We talked to her to learn more about both initiatives.

How does Skyhawks Rise address "play equity"?

There are four main barriers that we've identified: cost, equipment, location, and transportation. So we provide free or reduced-cost programming to youth in low-income communities, provide all equipment, coordinate facility space in the areas most in need, and work to coordinate transportation. Our franchisees can operate affiliates of Skyhawks Rise in their own communities as well, and this allows them to source grant funding.

How did the equity committee come about?

We established the equity committee in 2020, in response to the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement. A lot of kids were coming to our camps with questions. Often we think children are immune to what's going on in the world, but that's simply not true. So initially we established the committee, which includes myself, other corporate employees, and two franchisees, to help our coaches and corporate team facilitate conversations in a healthy and productive way.

What advice would you give other franchisors looking to do more for DEI?

Establish a dedicated group that is willing to have conversations and address shortcomings and how you can do better. Education is really the foundation.

See the Top 100 Inclusive Franchises here.

Tracy Stapp Herold

Entrepreneur Staff

Tracy Stapp Herold is the special projects editor at Entrepreneur magazine. She works on franchise and business opportunity stories and listings, including the annual Franchise 500.

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