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Taco Bell, KFC parent invests $100M to fight inequality

Yum Brands announced a global initiative to improve opportunities for frontline restaurant workers and improve equality.
Photograph: Shutterstock

Yum Brands on Thursday said it plans to invest $100 million to fight inequality, with a global initiative designed to improve opportunities for frontline restaurant workers at its fast food brands and increase the diversity of the company’s executive teams.

The Louisville, Ky.-based company, which owns Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC and Habit Burger, plans to spend the funds over the next five years as part of the company’s “Unlocking Opportunity Initiative.” Yum CEO David Gibbs revealed the investment in a letter posted to his LinkedIn page.

“The events of 2020 have made it even clearer that one of the most pressing issues we face together in society is inequality and the lack of access and opportunity that goes with it,” Gibbs said. “Though addressing inequality is challenging and complex and there is no easy fix, as the world’s largest restaurant company, we’re at an inflection point where our actions can, and should, make real and lasting change.”

The investment comes amid mounting awareness of diversity issues in recent weeks throughout numerous institutions, as the police killings of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville have highlighted issues of systemic racism.

Restaurants have diverse workforces, but executive teams are predominantly white, which has shed a light on issues of development and advancement within a lot of companies.

Gibbs in his letter vowed to increase the diversity of the company’s executive and management ranks, franchisees and suppliers. He said the company would set targets in the coming months and hold executives accountable for meeting those goals.

Gibbs also said the company will continue rolling out inclusive leadership an anti-racism training across the system, including at both company and franchisee-owned restaurants.

Yum will work with its U.S. franchisees on implementing the initiative and ensure more diversity in leadership and account teams at its U.S. agencies. The company also plans to invest in entrepreneurship, education and social justice in communities around the U.S., including its hometown of Lousiville.

The effort includes a focus on equality, education and entrepreneurship. The company said it plans to create pathways to entrepreneurship for restaurant employees who want to lead a business, franchise or social enterprise.

“Difference should not stand in the way of opportunity,” Gibbs said. “Every day, our brands have the privilege to serve and employ people of every race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, age and background. As such, we remain steadfast against all forms of discrimination and inequality, both conscious and unconscious, that thwart opportunity for our people.”

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