Fast food with a conscience?

08 Apr 2005|Darrel Rhea

Two days ago, the NY Times reported that Taco Bell finally caved to a four-year boycott by a group that represents farm workers in Southern Florida to increase the wages of migrant workers and impose a tough code of conduct on Florida tomato suppliers. A senior VP of Yum Brands, which owns Taco Bell– not to mention Pizza Hut, A&W All American Food Restaurants and Long John Silver’s – cited a case for “human rights” and that now under Taco Bell’s new labor rules “indentured servitude by suppliers is strictly forbidden.”

This is admirable corporate conduct. It is encouraging to think that a behemoth fast food company finally cares about human rights and quality of life for the workers that supply them with product. What I think we have here is a traditional corporate player who wouldn’t normally get involved in migrant labor issues but is now realizing the importance of the Hispanic segment of their market.

From a marketing perspective, Yum is demonstrating serious brand leadership by expressing ethics and values from the point of view of its customers, not just from the point of view of management. It will be interesting to watch how Yum manages the PR on this action, and if this approach spreads to other parts of their organization.

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