How Wendy’s Empowers Women in Leadership

For 10 years, Women of Wendy’s has been a valuable Employee Resource Group to elevate and encourage female leadership.

Women of Wendy's

Women of Wendy’s Employee Resource Group Celebrates 10 Years! 

The Wendy’s Company established the Women of Wendy’s (WOW) Employee Resource Group (ERG) in 2014 with a mission to enable women to be their best selves while also fostering personal and professional growth. The creation of WOW was a very pivotal moment in Wendy’s inclusivity journey because it was the first of now seven ERGs available to restaurant support employees at Wendy’s. 

A decade later, WOW continues to enable members and their allies to be their best selves and foster increasing visibility for women within the organization. 

“WOW was a catalyst for the Company to expand the concept of ERGs to other underrepresented groups,” says Abigail Pringle, President, International and Chief Development Officer. 

To celebrate this milestone anniversary, WOW hosted a panel event at the Restaurant Support Center during Women’s History Month featuring a discussion with various WOW leaders from the past 10 years who shared their experiences and how their involvement with WOW has enhanced their careers.  

Below is an excerpt from that discussion, which has been slightly edited for brevity and clarity. 

What inspired WOW’s creation?  

Abigail Pringle 

“A few things inspired the original part of it. One is that Lindsay Radkoski (Wendy’s Chief Marketing Officer, U.S.) and I decided we were going to have breakfast one morning and we ended up talking about what we needed to be successful as leaders. 

“We asked, what could we do to find support for each other as women and as leaders? What could we do to create community? How do you create a sense of belonging so that you feel like you have support?  

“I think all men and women need all the support we can get in life. We need our fan club, we need our family, we need friends, we need people who can support us.  

“The other thing we talked about was how do we be a resource for the brand? Half of our consumers are women. And so how do we make sure that we give them a voice and ask what can we do to best serve our customers every day in our restaurants?  

“Then importantly, what can we do to be able to help our professional and personal development?  

Can you reflect on a pivotal moment in the past 10 years when WOW played a significant role in shaping your professional journey? 

Lindsay Radkoski, Chief Marketing Officer, U.S. 

“Before my experience with WOW, I hated public speaking. My first time on a stage in any sort of big environment was the kickoff of WOW. I moderated a panel during a YWCA luncheon that we were hosting. Today, when I sat on the stage, my heart was still beating in my chest a lot more than it normally would, but I've been able to practice and I've learned tips and I've learned from other people. 

“Being able to do that in the setting of WOW feels so much safer and supported and less high risk than maybe a board meeting or any core business meeting.” 

Stephanie Chen, Director of Continuous Improvement 

“There was a program that was especially impactful, and that was our WOW Lean In Circle program. It was a very unconventional approach to networking. When you think of networking, it's typically like one mentor, one mentee. It's like this one-on-one relationship. And I think those are great, but they seem kind of one-directional to me.  

“But what was unique about the WOW Lean In Circles was that it was a group mentoring activity. We intentionally put together five to seven individuals who came from different parts of the organization. They had different levels of experience, different roles. And I think the conversation was just a lot richer, and we were able to develop a lot of really solid relationships because we were coming from so many different perspectives.” 

What advice would you give to young women entering the workforce today, particularly within the quick service restaurant industry? 

Abigail Pringle 

“Well, one, I think the sky's the limit. That would be the thing – to aim high. I think sometimes we all create our own limitations for ourselves. And I think men do this, too, but women in particular think, ‘I can only do this or I might be able to do that.’ We limit ourselves because we don't have that confidence or don't have that skill.  

“As you start out in your career and later assess major changes or opportunities, you have to ask if you’re up for this. And why am I doing it? And what is it that I’m trying to achieve? You have to find a way to continue to build and foster self-confidence. It's interesting, I have a coach that I love and really appreciate. People talk about this whole imposter syndrome. He's like, I love it, because it means that you care. If you didn't have a little imposter syndrome, it means that you actually don't care. 

“WOW also helped me learn another important lesson: I have to be reminded to ask for help. And so you have to build a fan club. I do think WOW creates a venue for building a network and a support group. You get to meet other people and you create those connections.  

“Finance is talking to Marketing and Marketing is talking to Operations and talking to Development and talking to all the different groups. You now have that great network you can reach into as you figure out what you're doing.” 

Looking ahead to the next 10 years, what do you hope WOW’s impact will be on Wendy’s global business and, particularly, at the restaurant level? 

Abigail Pringle 

“I think WOW has done an amazing job with our restaurant support center teams. I think it's done a great job with building a broader awareness.  

“To be more inclusive, we're going to need to make sure that our focus also includes supporting our restaurant and field teams.  

“I had a proud moment [on March 8], because Paula Romero Asnar and Sinem Teoman kicked off our first field chapter of WOW in our APMEA region. We're really excited. Paula worked with the WOW chairs this last year and created a toolkit, a freedom within a framework.  

“Here's what WOW’s principles are, here's what they're not. Here's what you can do, and hey, look, run with it and learn. More engagement with our field and our restaurants is the future. This new field chapter is just the beginning.  

Wendy’s employee-led resource groups like WOW heighten opportunities to celebrate diverse backgrounds, empower employees to bring their authentic selves to work and offer leadership and professional development opportunities. Learn more about how Wendy’s is fostering more inclusive and equitable workplaces and communities in our Corporate Responsibility report. 

Photos from the WOW AMPEA chapter