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Burger King U.K. has deleted a tweet the company put out on Monday after it received criticism from the Twitter community. While the original post was seemingly an attempt to encourage more women to pursue work in culinary fields — if that is their desire — users on Twitter deemed it misogynistic, leading to the fast food chain apologizing.
According to the company, the majority of the culinary workforce is occupied by men. This led Burger King U.K. to tweet in support of more women entering the field in a celebration of International Women’s Day. The fast food chain also used the day in order to announce a scholarship program, called H.E.R. (Helping Equalize Restaurants), but the initial tweet was enough to upset users on Twitter.
The controversial post was a series of tweets, beginning with “women belong in the kitchen,” followed up with “if they want to, or course.” Another tweet continued, “Yet only 20% of chefs are women. We’re on a mission to change the gender ratio in the restaurant industry by empowering female employees with the opportunity to pursue a culinary career.” The series ended with the announcement of the scholarship program “ which will help female Burger king employees pursue their culinary dreams!”
Fox News reports that many Twitter users found the tweets offensive.
Shameful Burger King absolutely bang out of order,” one user posted.”On Women’s Day no less!”
Shameful Burger King absolutely bang out of order. On Women's Day no less!
— Dell 💦 #BruceOut (@agbnufc_) March 8, 2021
Another accused the chain of using specific language to garner attention, writing, “I get that you were using this comment as bait for a larger conversation to actually empower women. But listen to all the women telling you that using a sexist comment as bait isn’t cool. This was the first tweet I saw on international woman’s day.”
I get that you were using this comment as bait for a larger conversation to actually empower women. But listen to all the women telling you that using a sexist comment as bait isn’t cool. This was the first tweet I saw on international woman’s day.
— Michelle Guido (@heyyguido) March 8, 2021
KFC’s U.K. account joined in, telling Burger King U.K. to delete the tweet, stating, “The best time to delete this post was immediately after posting it. The second best time is now.”
— KFC Gaming (@kfcgaming) March 8, 2021
Burger King U.K. reportedly responded to KFC’s post, but the tweet has since been deleted. Fox News reported that the company’s response read, “Why would we delete a tweet that’s drawing attention to a huge lack of female representation in our industry, we thought you’d be on board with this as well? We’ve launched a scholarship to help give more of our female employees the chance to pursue a culinary career.”
Although the company had originally stood up for its choice of words in the promotion of its scholarship, it changed its tune on Tuesday and issued an apology.
Burger King U.K. posted a statement in response to the backlash, stating, “We hear you. We got our initial tweet wrong and we’re sorry. Our aim was to draw attention to the fact that only 20% of professional chefs in U.K. kitchens are women and to help change that by awarding culinary scholarships. We will do better next time.”
In a second tweet, the company explained its decision to delete the initial tweet. “We decided to delete the original tweet after our apology. It was brought to our attention that there were abusive comments in the thread and we don’t want to leave the space open for that.”
We decided to delete the original tweet after our apology. It was brought to our attention that there were abusive comments in the thread and we don't want to leave the space open for that.
— Burger King (@BurgerKingUK) March 8, 2021
In a statement to Fox News before the company deleted the tweet, a spokesperson for Burger King stated that the brand is “committed to helping women break through a male-dominated culinary culture in the world’s fine dining restaurants – and sometimes that requires drawing attention to the problem we’re trying to help fix.”
The statement continued: “Our tweet in the UK today was designed to draw attention to the fact that only a small percentage of chefs and head chefs are women. It was our mistake to not include the full explanation in our initial tweet and have adjusted our activity moving forward because we’re sure that when people read the entirety of our commitment, they will share our belief in this important opportunity.”
Burger King also told Fox News on Monday that the H.E.R. program is a section of the broader Burger King Foundation Scholars Program and has already given out “more than $3 million in scholarships to support female team members in achieving their educational goals in North America.”