Published on May 31, 2020
Chief Executive Officer at Yum! Brands
While the coronavirus pandemic reminds us that we are all truly connected, the tragic and unnecessary deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and many others have devastated their families and communities and made it clear that inequality and injustice in the United States run deep and, when unaddressed, threaten the stability of our society.
Each person’s life was ended by a senseless act of violence and the simple fact that they were African American. This is completely unacceptable. We must work together across political divides, companies, governments, schools and community groups to end this shameful reality and the systemic failures that do not protect the lives of all citizens.
Witnessing the outrage across our nation and the events over the past few weeks, I think of our 1.5 million frontline restaurant employees at KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and The Habit Burger Grill, especially those in our headquarter city of Louisville, Kentucky, where Breonna was killed. Many of our team members around the globe are people of color who are navigating life’s challenges in the face of consistent bias and inequality, and this daily experience is now compounded by a global pandemic.
Like me, many of you have probably thought, “What can I do? How can I make a difference?” As a company that serves and cares for employees, franchisees and customers of every race, ethnicity and background, Yum! Brands, KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and The Habit Burger Grill stand with African Americans and all people of color, unified against all forms of racism, gender bias, discrimination, hate and intolerance. Especially at this time, we remain committed to ensuring a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment for our customers to enjoy and for employees to thrive. Yum! Brands’ core value of Believing in ALL People has never been more important.
But we must do more. Today, leading in an inclusive way is more important than ever, and that means listening with open minds and hearts to understand those around us, being a courageous and proactive ally to our colleagues and communities in crisis and ensuring we have a diversity of leaders and voices at the table providing input and creating solutions. To be clear — there is no easy answer or solution, but there is also no path forward without more listening, more understanding and more action.
As we move forward, Yum! Brands will invest significantly more time, talent and resources to be a greater force for positive change and equality for frontline restaurant employees and in the communities where we operate alongside our franchisees. I take heart in knowing that there is more that unites us than divides us and that — through listening, understanding and acting meaningfully — we can and we must come together around the world to heal the wounds of inequality. Let us all resolve to do just that.