Honoring Leadership and Inclusion: Insights from Donatos Pizza Chief People Officer, Christina Jackson

The franchising industry has many success stories, but few are as inspiring as that of Christina Jackson, the Chief People Officer at Donatos Pizza. Christina's journey with Donatos Pizza, a brand known for its dedication to community and ethics, is a great example of women leaders' significant role in franchising and the necessity of promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace. This Women's History Month, we celebrate Christina and all the women leaders at Donatos Pizza who are making a difference in the franchising industry.

The Role and Vision of a Chief People Officer

Christina joined Donatos Pizza in 2022, stepping into what she describes as "very big shoes to fill" as the first non-family member to serve as Chief People Officer on the executive team. Her role encompasses everything HR-related — from benefits to development, reflecting a "people-first" culture that is as operationally driven as it is focused on recruiting and nurturing associates.

"I see my role as a bridge between honoring our legacy and embracing the future," Christina explains, aiming to prepare Donatos Pizza for the next 60 years and beyond. Her day-to-day involves ensuring consistency across Donatos Pizza’s 450+ locations, supporting franchise partners not by dictating actions but by fostering a trusted relationship. "It's about creating a sense of belonging and community where everyone can thrive. That's the beauty of our business — it's ever-changing, ever-dynamic."

Living the Core Values

For Christina, the core values of Donatos Pizza are not just professional guidelines but personal convictions. "Integrity, leading with love, being disciplined yet flexible — these are the guardrails of how I lead and support," she shares. Christina emphasizes the importance of treating people with respect and dignity, reflecting on initiatives like accommodating associates' preferred names in the point-of-sale platform to honor every individual's worth.

"This alignment with my core being makes every decision, every challenge, something I approach with my whole heart. It's about treating people how they want to be treated and maintaining our identity in every situation."

Cultivating a Distinct Culture

Donatos Pizza culture is set apart in the franchising world, something Christina attributes to a genuine family ethos. "We're a family, and while that doesn't mean we're perfect, it means we lead with love and are open to learning from each other." This approach informs how Donatos Pizza selects its franchise partners, aiming for individuals who embody and extend the brand's culture.

Christina plays a crucial role in integrating potential franchise partners, sharing, "We invite them to our home office for 'Donatos Days' after a vetting process, where we share who we are and what we stand for. It's about setting them up for success, not just in business operations but in creating an inclusive workplace."

Fostering Community and Looking Ahead

The challenge of maintaining and enhancing the Donatos Pizza culture amid growth is one Christina faces head-on. "We're revitalizing regional conferences and planning to be more present in our communities," she states, emphasizing the importance of meeting franchise partners where they are to maintain the brand's core values.

As for the qualities that define a successful Donatos Pizza franchise owner, Christina highlights the importance of being value-driven, open to learning, and innovative. "It's about being rooted in being good, open to evolving, and willing to try new things."

Impacting the Community and Supporting DEI

This year's theme for National Women's History Month is "Women Who Advocate for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.” Christina is an exceptional example of this, as her leadership extends beyond the operational aspects of her role to deeply involve herself in community engagement and DEI initiatives.

"From participating in the pride march to supporting organizations like Girls on the Run, we're committed to reflecting the communities we serve and having a positive impact," she explains.

Christina Jackson stands out as a beacon of progress in the restaurant industry. Her leadership at Donatos Pizza not only drives the company's success but also embodies the values of community, respect, and inclusivity, making her an inspiring figure for women everywhere.

Are you interested in franchising with a company that supports community involvement and encourages others to find success? Contact us today to learn more about our inclusive, supportive franchise opportunity at Donatos Pizza.

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