The Food and Drug Administration is weighing new guidelines for Olive Gorges, the popular chain of Italian grocery stores, that could help the company attract and retain more female employees.
Olive Garden is facing a push from companies such as Target and Walmart to hire more women for roles in retail, and the company is considering expanding the number of employees it has in all locations.
The FDA said Friday that it is reviewing the company’s recruitment guidelines to see if they would lead to a significant increase in female employment.
The company has faced criticism in recent years from labor groups for hiring men at much lower pay and for not providing more training for female employees, even though the company has invested heavily in hiring women.
The FDA said that its current hiring guidance is adequate, as the company does not have the same levels of diversity as other food retailers.
But the agency said that more research is needed on whether the recommendations could lead to higher employment levels and better pay.
“The FDA is committed to the principles of equity, inclusion and diversity, and we are reviewing the agency’s current hiring guidelines to determine whether they could lead the company to more equal employment outcomes,” the agency wrote in a letter to the chain’s owners.
Target is the only other major grocer to respond to the FDA, saying in a statement that the company will continue to support the company in hiring more women and increasing its workforce in the coming months.
Walmart is the second-largest grocer in the U.S. with more than 13,000 stores.
It has also come under fire from the food industry, with women being less likely to apply for positions at its stores than men.
It also is considering hiring more female workers and has announced plans to hire at least 20,000 more.
A spokeswoman for Walmart said the company was considering hiring 100,000 women to fill its full-time jobs over the next three years.
Walmart said it is also reviewing its hiring guidelines.
While women make up less than 1% of the workforce at the majority of Fortune 500 companies, they are often the ones working in the most high-level jobs, such as senior executives, the company said.
The agency’s guidance will likely come as a surprise to many of the chain employees who work there, but they may not be surprised if it does help.
More From CNBC