The Path Forward: A Message from Pizza Hut President Kevin Hochman

Originally posted to LinkedIn on June 4, 2020

George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery should still be here. Their Black lives mattered. And so did the lives of so many other Black Americans stolen from communities and families by centuries of systemic racism and its malicious effects on too many of our institutions. Our Black friends and family, neighbors, and colleagues deeply feel the effects of racism in day-to-day life—not just in death. This cannot stand.

Through intentional listening to Black voices, I have continued learning more about the ways injustice and inequality permeate Black Americans’ ordinary interactions with law enforcement, colleagues, strangers, and others. I have heard about their rage, grief, fear, imminent sense of doom, and despair. And, though I have more to learn, I can tell you what I know today: Pizza Hut cannot—and will not—mourn this sad reality in silence while the world rages around us. We hear voices hoping for and demanding a better life, despite the color of their skin. And we join these voices in solidarity. So let me be clear and unequivocal: Pizza Hut stands against racism, oppression, violence, hatred or intolerance towards Black people. We are ready to get to work building a world much bigger, brighter, and filled with more possibilities than these evils have allowed so far.

And, for us, that work starts “at home.” There has been too little listening to people with lived experiences informing what is now a global moment. To start turning the tide, Yum! Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer James Fripp recently brought together our organization to learn from a diverse panel of Pizza Hut employees. These associates shared their stories and perspectives on a range of issues pertaining to race, racism, intolerance, protest as political expression, and more. We left feeling illuminated; but, we also left feeling challenged. And that challenge will be the driving force behind much more work to come as we engage collaboratively to build and grow a culture that models our company’s commitment to believe in all people.

The next step in our journey is continuing this conversation and broadening it to our partners, as well as their employees, who serve a diverse customer base through diverse restaurant teams. And we will double down on our efforts to ensure our management ranks reflect—and continually reflect—the diversity of the communities we serve. These are but a few small—though, critical—steps we are taking as we deepen our commitment to our own words, ourselves, and our customers who trust us to feed their families. We will chart a path forward, together, so that our brand can be a beacon of light in times that threaten sustained darkness.

We grieve injustice with a hurting Black community, and we grieve the pain we are seeing across our country. And, now, we prepare to use that grief to fuel work that can return hope to those needing it most. I ask you to join us—publicly and privately—as we endeavor to change and improve the lives of our neighbors and the souls of our communities.

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