Rolling Out

Denny’s chair of the board Brenda J. Lauderback on diversity and leadership

Chair of the Board of Directors for Denny’s stresses why it’s vital that underrepresented voices are being heard in the rooms where decisions are being made

In a discussion with rolling out, Brenda J. Lauderback, Chair of the Board of Directors for Denny’s Corporation, shares her profound insights on the critical importance of diversity in corporate America.

With a wealth of experience and a passion for intentional leadership, Lauderback emphasizes the necessity of diverse voices in boardrooms to truly reflect and serve the consumer base. She delves into her approach to leadership, highlighting the power of being intentional and the significance of mentorship. Lauderback’s message to aspiring leaders is clear: authenticity and a commitment to inclusivity are key to driving meaningful change and achieving success in today’s dynamic business landscape.

Munson Steed: Can you share what it is to be and why have a board that should be diverse in America?

Brenda J. Lauderback: Well, I think it’s critical to have a voice in the room. There are many, many decisions for corporations that are made. The boardroom works with a management team or the board does to set the strategy direction of a company. And if there are no diverse voices in the room, then what does that really mean? And who is making the decision? I also think companies should reflect what the consumer base looks like. And we’re very intentional in the companies that I work with, Denny’s specifically. When you think about the number of employees that we have from underrepresented communities. It is important that the voices are being heard. So at all levels in our company, both ownership, the people that work directly in our restaurants, management, and our board of directors, is diverse. And we are very intentional about making sure all voices are heard.

A superpower in being ‘intentional’

MS: Describe your superpower. What are your two superpowers?

BL: I don’t know about a superpower, I always say I never want to walk around with that big F on the front of me. But what I would say is I am a person that uses the word “intentional” a lot. I am intentional about what I do, what I say, what I believe. But I’m also very good at bringing people together and sharing the vision. There are a lot of times in boardrooms in corporate America that people leave an elephant in the room. They don’t talk about what the real issues are, they dance around. And I’m a believer that if you don’t address issues and have healthy, productive dialogue, you’ll never change anything, and particularly the direction that an organization needs to go. I also believe wholeheartedly in mentoring and bringing people along so I spend quite a bit of time with our leadership team mentoring, talking, and supporting them. So I don’t know if that’s a superpower.

MS: If you were giving a speech at Spelman or Howard to future young men and women, to strive and to assume your position in the future, what would the title of your speech be?

BL: Be authentic, be yourself, and realize that all things are possible.

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