- Pizza Hut U.S. named Chequan Lewis to the newly created role of chief equity officer. He joined the Pizza Hut system for four years ago, serving as senior director of the Pizza Hut Express division and, prior, director of legal.
- Lewis will be responsible for developing processes and implementing policies that will create a more equitable workplace culture across the company, from employees to franchisees.
- Pizza Hut also announced a new initiative called Empowering Education. According to a press release, the pizza chain will partner with First Book to provide educators with resources that could help them have conversations about race and racism in the classroom.
At the beginning of the year, Glassdoor’s “2020 Job Trends” report predicted that diversity and inclusion specialists would be one of the top priorities as employers worked to draw new staff and evolve their company culture. It cited data that from 2018 to 2019, diversity and inclusion job postings increased by 30% in the U.S. That focus for companies sharpened, however, several months later after the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many more, sparked a global movement behind the Black Lives Matter cause.
Plenty of chains came out in support of Black Americans this summer and promised to help their communities and improve their own organizations. McDonald’s, for example, ran an ad naming victims of politic brutality. It also made a $1 million donation to the NAACP and National Urban League. Starbucks, Yum Brands, Chipotle, Wendy’s and more also made big donations to similar causes.
But putting a person in place to lead sustained work on matters of diversity and inclusion goes a step further as it points to a desire to improve the diversity of a company from within.
Much work remains here. National Restaurant Association data shows that four in 10 restaurant managers and supervisors are minorities. However, in the industry’s C-suite, the room remains largely white, according to the Multicultural Food and Hospitality Alliance. This issue isn’t exclusive to the restaurant industry, but fast food customers in particular are more likely to be Black, so the disconnect is perhaps more pronounced.
Pizza Hut's new initiative and C-suite role is likely to receive favorable response from consumers across demographics. According to Pew research, two-thirds of U.S. adults support the Black Lives Matter movement, and consumers are increasingly demanding activism from their favorite companies.
The pizza chain joins several others who have similar positions. McDonald’s has a global chief diversity officer, for example, while Papa John’s brought on a chief of diversity, equity and inclusion following the very public fallout of founder John Schnatter after his use of a racist term. Earlier this month, Bloomin’ Brands promoted Sheilina Henry to group vice president of diversity and inclusion, while Pizza Hut parent Yum Brands expanded James Fripp’s role to the newly created chief equity and inclusion officer. With that latter announcement, Lewis should have an accessible resource in place to leverage for his own company’s work.
With the Empowering Education initiative already underway, Lewis already has some of that work started. Empowering Education includes a guidebook on antiracist teaching and additional reading recommendations, and fits very squarely into Pizza Hut’s longstanding Book It program focused on literacy.