Here at KFC, we lead with heart – it’s critical to our culture and part of our DNA. One of our core values is to believe in all people and we’re proud that KFC is committed to promoting a culture that stands for inclusion and respect, regardless of gender, race, or sexuality. We welcome people from all backgrounds and everyone can bring their best self to work. Everyone is welcome at our table.
After a year unlike any other – full of lockdowns, restrictions, and less human interaction – we believe celebrating openness and diversity is more important than ever. Inspired by Pride Month, we’re taking a few weeks this summer to recognize and celebrate our own LGBTQ+ community and culture around the world. Our “Talking Pride” series is all about championing diversity, celebrating how far we’ve come, and educating about the work that still needs to be done.
I’m the Chief People Officer at KFC UK & Ireland. I think there are three really important things at KFC: our chicken, our people and our culture. So, working on two out of the three with my amazing team is a real privilege.
I live about an hour outside of London in the U.K. with my husband, Tom, and our children, Xander, who is three, and Bella, who is one. I’ve spent most of my life living in different parts of the U.K. with the exception of three years I spent living in Dallas whilst I was a part of the KFC Global Team back in 2014-17.
Pride used to mean bravery, my own bravery, to be the real me, to come out and live authentically. Pride was a destination, a hopeful end point that meant self-acceptance and acceptance from those I love. A destination that represented ‘normality’ in terms of living a life that I wanted, having a career and building a family with who I loved.
Over the years however, it has become so much more than that, less selfish, more political, more frustrated and more desperate. Pride now means safety, equality and acceptance. Pride to me means a battle with my LGBTQ+ siblings around the world for a better, more safe space where people don’t have to fear or flee rejection, discrimination, issues of safety and of incarceration. Pride for me today means shining a light on the unjust difference in progress made in parts of the world, like the one I am fortunate to call home and in many, many other countries where being LGBTQ+ is not just taboo but is unsafe.
In 70+ countries it is still deemed a criminal offense punishable by imprisonment and in 11 of those it is still a crime punishable by death. Pride to me today also means acknowledging the privilege that comes with being a white, gay man vs. many other forms of identity, not least those who identify proudly as transgender and transgender people of colour. It comes with a real need to demand more for the rights, safety, acknowledgment and love of transgender people, remembering that it was the transgender community who started and sustained so much of our journey to more freedom and better lives as LGB people but who remain more stuck than ever in a society who still broadly rejects them. Pride is progress but Pride is not done until all LGBTQ+ people in each corner of the world can live freely and without persecution and prejudice. Only then can we all feel a true sense of Pride.
We are surrounded by incredible allies at KFC and, throughout Yum!, believing in ALL people is who we are. Allies that I appreciate are interested, are open to learning of our history, our reality and of our challenges. Allies I admire stand up for LGBTQ+ people when we are not in the room, they call out homophobic rhetoric, don’t laugh at lazy humour or engage in the macho banter, and tell people why they won’t. Allies I respect beyond anything are the parents and friends of LGBTQ+ people who, when they needed them the most, were there for them with love and support. To all parents out there, the biggest thing we can all do to actually change the world is simply to teach our children to love your children regardless of anything.