Yum! Brands announced Thursday that it’s pledging $100 million in the next five years to fight inequality.
The global mission, referred to as the Unlocking Opportunity initiative, will combat discrimination across KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and The Habit Burger Grill by focusing on equity and inclusion, education, and entrepreneurship. As part of these efforts, Yum! will make a $50 million contribution to the Yum! Brands Foundation.
“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,” CEO David Gibbs said in a statement. “Around the world, this unfortunate reality has many faces, and it pressures the lives of too many individuals, families, and communities. 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.”
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These efforts will begin in the U.S., which represents 40 percent of Yum!’s global sales and half of its franchisees. Primary objectives include increasing representation of minorities and women among executives and management, franchisees, and suppliers, continuing to roll out inclusive leadership and anti-racism training across the system, ensuring diverse representation in leadership and account teams at U.S. agencies, and investing in entrepreneurship, education, and social justice in marginalized communities.
The initiative comes a month after George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis, was killed by then Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. The officer, since fired and charged with murder, pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds despite Floyd pleading, “I can’t breathe.” Three other officers—Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and J. Alexander Kueng—were also fired and subsequently charged for their involvement.
The tragic killing led to a wave of protests across the country and calls for action against social injustice.
Gibbs said that events in recent weeks show that measures must be taken immediately, and that conversations with many employees “have opened my eyes to the resolve we will need in order to grow through our collective discomfort and arrive squarely on the side of history that uplifts Black communities and others in crisis along with everyone else.”
“While the road ahead will not be easy, I’m more confident and convicted than ever that with the strength of our culture, we will meet the challenges head-on,” Gibbs said. “I am proud to see our company courageously coming together to shape a future with more equality, fairness and opportunity for all. We simply can’t miss this historic moment to do our part to unlock opportunities that improve the lives of the people who run our restaurants and serve our local communities.”