American fast-food chain KFC has announced plans to double women employee headcount in India to 5,000 in the next 3-4 years, as it steps up diversity and inclusion initiatives in the country. Presently, the ratio of women employees stands at 30%, and the restaurant aims to increase this number to 40% by 2024.
KFC India currently operates two all-women restaurants, with the first one in Darjeeling and the other newly opened in Hyderabad, which also happened to mark the 25,000th KFC restaurant in the world.
In conversation with the media, KFC India Managing Director Samir Menon said, "We have about 2,500 hundred women in our restaurants across states...Our intent is to at least, if nothing else, double the number of women we have in our restaurants over the next three or or four years and bring it up to 5,000 or so...We are adding new restaurants as well. This (gender diversity) sort of gets more amplified as more and more restaurants are opened.”
Commenting on KFC India’s diversity journey so far, Menon added, “On gender diversity, it has grown very organically. It is not like we were going out and trying to make a very loud exercise. Between 2013-14 and pre-Covid, in those five or six years diversity in our restaurants, from a gender perspective, has grown from 7-8 percent to around 30 percent...that included both team members and leaders of restaurants...The intent is to get to 40 per cent by 2024."
Sharing that the company would continue to encourage more women at work, Menon stated, "Over the years, we have realized, and even a research we did in 2019 internally showed up, that in many ways women employees have higher retention, lower attrition and competitive scores are very strong as well. Therefore, from an overall brand perspective it resonates so beautifully with the way our brand is built. And therefore we want to go behind this in a large way."
Beyond boosting gender diversity, KFC India also plans to double the footprint of Special KFCs -- operated by hearing and speech impaired team members, by 2024. The restaurant chain aims to launch select, flagship Special KFCs across India, that provide an elevated KFC experience for specially-abled team members as well as customers. Reportedly, under its KFC Kshamata programme, the brand aims to have 70 'Special KFCs' by 2024, up from over 30 at present.
"Over the last decade or so that first restaurant (Special KFC) has become over 30 and from the first five or six people it has become almost 200. The process of doing that has led us to a very deep conviction that as a brand we can make an impact...Our intent is to keep growing that," Menon said.
As the impact of the pandemic fueled the urgency for diversity and inclusion at the workplace, these initiatives by KFC India will serve as a great example for employers that continue to struggle in recognizing how they can make an impact and where to begin.
By building a business case out of both the talent benefits and societal impact created, brands can accelerate their vision of representing a diverse and inclusive workplace.