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McDonald's CEO is apologizing after texts about Chicago shooting deaths surface

CEO of McDonalds apologizes for texts about Chicago shooting deaths

November 10, 2021: -On Monday, McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski met with employees at the company’s headquarters and online to discuss a text message exchange the executive had with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot about the shooting deaths of the children.

Last week, Kempczinski apologized a few times for his comments after the texts were made public.

In a message to U.S. employees obtained by CNBC, Kempczinski said he texted Lightfoot to thank the mayor for visiting the company’s headquarters in April. The visit occurred the day after 7-year-old Jaslyn Adams was fatally shot while sitting in a McDonald’s drive-thru. This came soon after a Chicago police officer killed 13-year-old Adam Toledo in March. In the exchange, Kempczinski said, “the parents are failing those kids.” The texts were made public by activists and were reported on over the previous week, causing backlash and prompting protests at McDonald’s headquarters.

“Not taking the time to think about this from their viewpoint was wrong and lacked the empathy and compassion I feel for these families. This is a lesson that I will carry with me,” Kempczinski said in Tuesday’s message.

On Friday, Kempczinski announced the plan to hold a conversation with employees and added: “As I shared in my note earlier this week, my texts to the Mayor of Chicago were wrong, plain and simple. I am truly sorry, and I know I have let you down, and I also know this has conflicted with our values that you have worked so hard to embody across the business.”

Kempczinski said he holds the self-accountable for the work he must do and hopes to regain the trust of the company and the communities it serves.

On Saturday, Kempczinski also recorded a video message to McDonald’s U.S. system, which included his reflections on the week. In it, he again apologized. “I’m sorry I let you down. And I let myself down,” he said.

He also said he has a “very narrow worldview” through his background and that his comments revealed his ignorance. A person known for the distribution of the video said the message was sent to employees, franchisees, and suppliers.

A source in franchisee leadership said some restaurant owners didn’t believe the apology and had broader concerns about how the situation could impact employee morale during a challenging time in the labor market. Franchise owners and McDonald’s corporate staff have butted heads over the last year regarding operational issues.

In an open letter to Kempczinski last week, a coalition of activists from Color of Change, One Fair Wage, and Showing Up for Racial Justice, among others, criticized the CEO’s message, saying in part, “Your text message was ignorant, racist and unacceptable coming from anyone, let alone the CEO of McDonald’s, a company that spends big money to market to communities of color and purports to stand with Black Lives.”

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