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Chequan Lewis

Pizza Hut U.S. names Chequan Lewis chief equity officer overseeing diversity and inclusion at restaurants

The Yum Brands subsidiary also launches an antiracist educational initiative for grade-school students

Pizza Hut U.S. has appointed Chequan Lewis to the newly created position of chief equity officer, the Yum Brands subsidiary said Wednesday.

Lewis is responsible for “putting in place structures, processes and decision-making that create a more equitable workplace and company for our employees, franchisees, licensees, restaurant teams, customers, and communities we serve,” the company said in a press release announcing his appointment.

Lewis joined Pizza Hut’s legal team four years ago, and before his current promotion he was senior director of the Pizza Hut Express division, overseeing roughly 1,500 licensees of onsite venues such as airports, stadiums, military bases, colleges etc.

Before that, he was “director of legal,” with responsibility for legal issues relating to franchising.

Lewis graduated from Harvard Law School, and before joining Pizza Hut he was a business litigator at Baker Botts LLP. Prior to that he led national employment and diversity recruiting for McMaster-Carr Supply Company.

“I am excited to lead this critical work during this moment in our brand’s and nation’s history,” Lewis said in a statement. “Pizza Hut occupies a unique space in our cultural landscape, and I believe we can help make our world a more vibrant place by chasing equity with intentionality, authenticity, and humility. I look forward to the progress we can make and lives we change as we work hand-in-hand with our franchisees, team members, and community partners towards this vision.”

Lewis is also on the board of directors of the Dallas Zoo and City Square and on the board of advisors for the Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law Robert B. Rowling Center for Business Law & Leadership.

He also has served as chairman of the South Dallas-Fair Park Opportunity Fund, leading efforts to invest municipal funds in a historically marginalized area of Dallas.

The announcement of Lewis’ appointment comes on the same day that Pizza Hut launched an initiative with First Book, an organization that provides resources to educators working with children in need.

The initiative, Empowering Educators, is a collection of resources to help foster conversations about race and racism.

Pizza Hut said the initiative is in response to a survey of educators in 2019 that found that the majority of them wanted to speak proactively about race and racism with their students but didn’t feel comfortable doing so.

These concerns have taken on a sense of urgency as the novel coronavirus pandemic has affected Black and Hispanic people at a higher rate than other Americans, and as a social movement fighting against racism was reignited following the May 25 murder of an unarmed Black man, George Floyd, by a Minneapolis police officer.

The resources include an introductory guidebook on antiracist teaching, as well as recommendations for further reading, and an instructional video series developed for elementary and high school educators. Additional resources are forthcoming, Pizza Hut said.

“Pizza Hut is introducing a new chapter in our long-standing commitment to literacy – focused on the intersection of equity and education,” Lewis said.

He said Pizza Hut launched Book It! In 1984, which awards children who read with gift certificates for pizza.

“Pizza Hut is continuing this legacy today, but we’re taking it a step further – providing resources that help us chase equity by celebrating diversity, teaching empathy, and creating a safe space for everyone to learn while feeling comfortable as their authentic selves,” Lewis said.

There are around 7,300 Pizza Hut locations in the United States.

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected] 

Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary

Correction: August 20, 2020
An error in the name of Pizza Hut's and First Book's initiative, which is called Empowering Educators, has been corrected.
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