Hooters Needs an MBA Scholarship

By: Grayson Leverenz

Have you been watching “Undercover Boss” on CBS? I’m a sucker for shows about business, and haven’t missed an episode yet.

Undercover Boss follows CEOs of major corporations posing as entry-level workers to see what it’s really like on the front lines of their organizations. I love the premise of the show, but the execution misses the mark.

Each episode follows the same pattern: revelation that entry-level jobs are hard, inspiration from individual workers, determination to fix an immediate problem, and dedication to the people that helped the CEO along the way. It’s human interest; I guess that’s what sells on prime time.

I’m more curious about the systems that make these giants work. I want to know about the supply chain, integrating machinery and people, creating and communicating new policies, etc. Meeting the super happy guy that smiles throughout the dirtiest of jobs is great, but give me something more. Let me see how things are actually going to change for the entire organization, not just for the individuals fortunate enough to be on the show.

The biggest missed opportunity to date happened in the Hooters episode. They showcased a woman that worked her way up from being a Hooters girl (i.e. waitress) to management. She had excellent rapport with her staff; she could relate because she had done their job, and her store seemed to be well run. The take-away from her story was that management equals stress. Follow-up revealed she took a “less stressful job” within the organization, and the CEO started an initiative to encourage balance between personal and professional lives.

That message infuriates me. It makes Hooters look every bit as sexist as most people think they are. Rather than presenting a success story of a waitress growing into a manager; they show a woman that can’t handle the responsibility. Rather than supporting her, and giving her the tools to be a successful manager, they tell her it’s too stressful, and give her another job. The message to Hooters girls – there is no future for you here.

If the Hooters CEO was a real visionary, he would have created a Leadership Development program that inspired Hooters girls to strive for management roles, and supported them along the way with training and mentoring. How about a Hooters MBA scholarship instead of a stress reducing initiative?

Author: Grayson Leverenz

Grayson Leverenz founded MBA in the USA® to help international students build networks, find jobs, and have fun in the USA. Hundreds of global professionals have benefited from Grayson’s intercultural workshops, and she has worked with people from Brazil, China, India, South Africa, South Korea, the UK, and the USA to build effective virtual teams and craft brilliant careers.

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  1. Hi Grayson!

    Didn’t see this episode, but I’m a sucker for these types of shows as well… It reminds me of a TLC show, Now Who’s Boss?, which basically had the same format.

    If you like Undercover Boss, you should check out Now Who’s Boss.


  2. What looks old, Jae-Kwang?

    Hi Scott! Thanks for the tip on Now Who’s Boss. I’ll definitely have to check it out.

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