KFC, McDonald’s and Taco Bell Elevate Black Voices and Highlight the Next Generation of Leaders
During February, which is Black History Month, the contributions and successes of the Black community are commemorated. Able to follow a path of progress blazed by civil rights icons like Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, Black entrepreneurs have greatly impacted the U.S. economy and society as a whole.
While fewer than 10% of franchises are Black-owned, the International Franchise Association champions initiatives such as the Black Franchise Leadership Council to promote Black franchise ownership through education and other resources. While there are countless ways for franchise owners to show up within their own communities and businesses, these fast-food franchisors celebrate Black History Month by elevating Black voices and highlighting the next generation of leaders throughout their franchise systems.
Here is a selection of those leaders and their stories.
Kedibone Patricia Malatji Lebethe (main photo), CEO and managing director of KFC South Africa’s KPML Group of Companies, started her journey with the fast-casual brand in 1986 as a cashier. Through hard work, determination and a deep sense of purpose, Lebethe rose through the ranks to senior management at KFC’s parent, Yum! Brands, and was approved as a franchisee. Her first restaurant opened in 2007, and Lebethe worked as its general manager. Over time, Lebethe grew her portfolio to 29 restaurants in three provinces; she has more than 1,000 employees. To motivate staff, she advises franchise owners to give praise and recognition for a job well done.
To commemorate Black History Month 2023, Taco Bell has shined a spotlight on one of its corporate employees every Tuesday. For example, Chief Brand Officer Sean Tresvant was featured for his marketing prowess and dedication to putting people first while promoting positive change. In his role, Tresvant leads a multifunctional marketing team to fuel innovation, and he oversees digital, brand management, strategic and creative processes, and more. To Tresvant, addressing issues with recruiting and retaining racially underrepresented segments of the population and women can be rectified with acknowledgment and committed action.
Franchisors increasingly use the power of celebrity to promote products and bring about change. For Black History Month 2023, McDonald’s partnered with actress and singer Keke Palmer to highlight 10 visionaries through its Black & Positively Golden Change Leaders program. Under this initiative, these leaders receive $20,000 each ($200,000 collectively) to positively impact their communities by advocating financial literacy, equality across the education system, mental health advocacy and more. All 10 leaders will be featured in a national campaign voiced by Palmer. Their stories will also be shared on McDonald’s Black & Positively Golden Instagram, @wearegolden.
Takeaways from Black History Month 2023
During Black History Month, elevating Black voices and saluting the next generation of leaders can inspire entrepreneurs of all backgrounds and serve as an example of franchising’s diversity in action. Entrepreneurs benefit from advice given by the next generation of leaders. For example, setting high goals, focusing on their craft, and seeking mentorship and educational opportunities can help them advance in their careers.
Cover Photo: KFC