Dine Brands Makes Room at the Table for ESG – Part 1

November 07, 2023
By iQ Staff
iQ interview series with Gary

Dine Brands Global Inc. is a publicly traded food and beverage company based in Pasadena, California. It is one of the world’s largest full-service restaurant companies, and it franchises three iconic brands: Applebee's, IHOP and Fuzzy’s Taco Shop.

Gary DuBois, Vice President of Quality Assurance, along with his Dine Brands communications and sustainability colleagues, teamed up with iQ 360 to deliver an ESG report (an accounting of an entity’s environmental, social and governance impact) that would tell a strong story and drive support for the company’s ESG initiatives. Here, Gary shares some of his learnings from the experience as he and his team gear up to produce the next report.

 

Going into the process, what challenges did you anticipate?

A priority and a challenge for us is making sure that we engage our stakeholders and bring them along on this ESG journey. The franchise model is dynamic and fluid. Our business model is almost 100% franchised, meaning all but one of our restaurants are owned and operated by independent franchisees, all of whom are incredibly passionate about their work. Our franchisees are the standard-bearers of Dine Brands every day, in that sense they are our most important stakeholder.

 

Dine ESG report on franchisees of the year

An overview of key commitments and facts in Dine Brands' 2022 ESG report.

 

We need all our stakeholders engaged in the effort. Involving them and sharing knowledge with them is a priority. We are learning as well, and we continue to gain confidence in our role as galvanizers.

We had a good sense of the breadth of the information that we were trying to capture, and we knew that how we collected, organized and then how we ultimately told our story would be a challenge. This is an enterprise-wide endeavor, across Dine Brands and the three restaurant brands, so we had to prepare and secure buy in and foster engagement on a grand scale.

 

What challenges surprised you?

There are so many moving parts, various stakeholders, and a lot of processes that are a prerequisite to how we approach our ESG work.

We’ve spent a lot of time creating systems of organization: finding and filing information, and working alongside our franchisees, our suppliers and our key stakeholders across the organization to do this.

 

Is the report a high-profile deliverable within the Dine Brands organization?

Yes, absolutely. It is one of the only reports that we feature prominently on the website, and we proactively direct people to read and understand the work we are doing at Dine. We know that internal and external audiences will be looking for this information, and we are transparent on our commitments and our progress — updating the report on our website annually for interested parties to view.

 

Dine brands ESG by the number

An overview of key commitments and facts in Dine Brands' 2022 ESG report.

 

The Dine Brands ESG report functions as a tool on many levels for us. Everyone from our CEO and CFO to our head of HR is using this report to help showcase the company and tell the Dine Brands story.

 

Can you say more about the stakeholders that your team had in mind when creating the report?

We identified several stakeholder groups initially, approximately nine, including franchisees, investors, team members, non-governmental organizations, our Board of Directors, our management teams, and industry associations, just to name a few.

Today, our ESG report is used as a tool for how we talk about our business and commitments toward ESG.

 

Dine ESG report on values

Dine Brands prioritizes transparency and growth in its 2022 ESG report.

 

We’re always communicating and telling our story and bringing stakeholders along with us — transparency and growth is part of our business DNA. We’re meeting the goals we set and we’re constantly growing. The commitment we have starts at the very top with our Board of Directors — we have a Board liaison who works closely with us on ESG report content development. And that holds true throughout the company; we do the right thing in our communities and neighborhoods. Our ESG story is no different from how we talk about the rest of our business.

This report process has helped us evolve our ESG communications strategy. The commitment to ESG is not an annual event, it is part of our business and ongoing communications reflects this. Our goal is to share information throughout the year, not only in the report.

 

Click here to read part 2 of our interview with Gary DuBois, Vice President of Quality Assurance at Dine Brands.