As political protests continue nationwide following the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, executives from large restaurant chains have reached out to their employees to outline their and their companies’ responses.
“What we are seeing played out across the country is tragic and difficult, and I know we all long for change,” said Mark King, CEO of Taco Bell, a division of Yum Brands, in a letter to employees. “As an iconic brand that lives and operates in communities around the world, we can facilitate some of that change, together.”
King said that James Fripp, Yum’s chief diversity and inclusion officer, had hosted a panel among employees at the company’s Restaurant Support Center, and would open up similar conversations to restaurant teams. Yum Brands also owns KFC, Pizza Hut and The Habit Burger Grill.
King added that the Taco Bell Foundation would “continue to work with partners that impact communities of color and support youth education.”
Wingstop’s CEO, Charlie Morrison, also sent a letter to his employees, a copy of which was sent to Nation’s Restaurant News.
“This is about our role as a global brand and doing what is right,” he said of standing up for justice. “We cannot stand idly by and be complacent in this disregard for humanity.”
Morrison said he was forming a task force of team members to “help inform a go-forward plan centered around action and accountability for the long term” and encouraged employees to share their opinions with him and his team.
Inspire Brands CEO Paul Brown posted a letter to employees on LinkedIn, emphasizing the company’s values, particularly allyship and good citizenship.
“We must continue to be Allies supporting each other regardless of backgrounds or beliefs,” he wrote. “Further, we need to be Good Citizens to our guests and our teammates as well as to people in the communities where we live and serve — without qualification.”
Starbucks posted a letter to employees from its CEO and president, Kevin Johnson, last week. He shared stories from black partners that had joined a company-wide forum on racial injustice. Johnson committed to continuing these conversations.
As leaders reached out to their teams and shared plans for continued action, brands’ consumer-facing social-media accounts also responded to the social unrest. The hashtag #BlackoutTuesday was widely used across social media on Tuesday, encouraging users to mute promotion of their own content and instead amplify Black voices. Several restaurant chains, including Subway and Shake Shack, took part on Twitter.
Some brands used their social-media platforms to speak out in other ways. Fast-casual pizza chain &pizza, already known for its generous benefits, shared that its employees now receive paid time off for activism.
The National Restaurant Association shared a link to the Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance, as a resource for restaurant operators.
Email Leigh Anne Zinsmeister at [email protected]
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