A controversial text message exchange between the CEO of McDonald's and the mayor of Chicago has surfaced online, landing the fast-food chain executive in hot water. The messages pertained to victims of two shootings in the US.
Last Monday, CEO Chris Kempczinski told employees at the company headquarters that the alleged texting happened back in April. He had thanked Mayor Lori Lightfoot for visiting a McDonald's store in the aftermath of a shooting incident that killed Jaslyn Adams, 7, at a McDonald's drive-thru.
Prior to the shooting, another incident – this time involving the Chicago police – saw the death of another minor: Adam Toledo, 13.
"The parents failed those kids," Kempczinski purportedly said in a text.
Activists allegedly leaked the message last week, sparking furor over the CEO's remarks. Protests also ensued at the McDonald's corporate offices.
Critics wrote an open letter to the CEO, stating: "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 colour and purports to stand with Black Lives."
In his apology, Kempczinski said his actions were "wrong – plain and simple".
"I am truly sorry and I know I have let you down. I also know this has conflicted with our values – values that you have all worked so hard to embody across the business," he said.
This prompted the CEO to hold a discussion with employees early this week.
"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 also posted a video over the weekend sharing the lessons he learnt from his mistake. In the clip, which was reportedly circulated among staff members, franchisees and suppliers, the CEO called out his own "very narrow worldview".