Pizza Hut Empowering Women or Capitalizing On Women Issue

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By- Abel Asrat

Last week Pizza Hut opened its first women-led franchise in Ethiopia with the aim of empowering women. Despite, Pizza Hut Abiy flavored move to empower women it is worth noting that Ethiopia is not immune to seeing restaurants being run by all women. Women run most of the successful restaurants and coffee chains in Ethiopia. For instance, Temesalet Kitchen is the first Ethiopian restaurant not only operated by all women but also owned by women. Unlike Pizza Hut the business profit goes to the women who work at Temesalet Kitchen. Not only that the Kitchen also empower women by hosting several women themed sessions.

For one to understand empowerment versus profiting from a social issue, it is essential to relate the experience of Colin Kaepernick at the NFL. 70% of the NFL players are African Americans, but the owners remain 100 percent whites. The moment you start to voice for your community, then you will end up without a contract like Colin Kaepernick. The dominance in the number of black football players in NFL didn’t assure Colin Kaepernick hiring. At the same time, Nike also made Colin Kaepernick its brand face for its marketing strategy which also backfired even among some African Americans who saw the move as purely profit oriented than genuinely caring for what Colin Kaepernick stands for.Now let us come to Pizza Hut how it is empowering to hire all women staff especially in a service sector where Ethiopian women are not strangers to run kitchen & food-related operation. Just look at the success stories of Kaldis(number one coffee-franchise in Ethiopia), Kategna(Number one Cultural Food Chain), Garden of Coffee (First African coffee chain challenging Starbuck in China & owned by Bethlehem Tilahun), Mulmul Bakery and Azmera Shero. As a society, we don’t have a stereotype or barrier in seeing successful women running business sectors related to food chains and products. It may be empowering to see Ethiopian women operating ET flight which is mainly male dominant sector and which aspires more women to become a pilot, technician, air traffic controller and so on rather than just being just flight attendant.

I urge Pizza Hut to focus on coaching its staff on its organizational procedures to handle harassment. If they already have such manual, they can set an example by introducing their policies to other organization in Ethiopia. Also, it will be more empowering for Pizza Hut if they outsource their ingredients from women suppliers instead of just importing ingredients & contributing for the shortage of forex exchange.

Finally, I hope they will not add a menu called Meat Too in showing solidarity to Me Too.