· 1 min read · News

Pizza Hut CEO: Don't put shareholder value over values


A focus on profit over people has led to a crisis of trust in businesses

An emphasis on creating shareholder value over upholding company values has led to a crisis of trust in business, according to Pizza Hut Restaurants CEO Jens Hofma.

Speaking at the HRD Summit in Birmingham, Hofma said business leaders have become “experts at saying the right thing, but doing something different".

“We are now paying the price,” he added, citing lack of trust in “elites and experts” as an outcome of this “greedy” approach.

Hofma joined Pizza Hut Restaurants in 2009 as a general manager and is part of a management team that has turned the brand around. The team also includes HR director of the year in the 2016 HR Excellence Awards Kathryn Austin.

On becoming CEO at Pizza Hut in 2012, Hofma worked two restaurant shifts a week for a year to better understand his employees and their concerns.

He told delegates that employees on the frontline “don’t care about our mission statement or buy our corporate bullsh*t”. “They are not concerned about the war for talent or the advance of technology; they are concerned about paying their rent at the end of the month,” he said.

He called on HR not to be the “CEO’s mouthpiece” or the “values police”, but to “stand up for the little man".

“The values we preach should be less about the values of the top [team],” he said. “Why don’t we all focus on being good to each other, working hard, and being constructive and functional human beings?

“If you want to change the world look at your relationship with your PA, and how people work together in your organisation, rather than at lofty mission statements.”

Speaking at the same event, former employment minister and director of Equal Power Consulting Jo Swinson called on business leaders to “have a reality check” and consider how they fit into society.

Talking on the business implications of Brexit, Swinson challenged the audience to “get out of your bubble” and “pre-empt regulation” by acknowledging the public mood around issues such as wage inequality.

“We need a ‘second curve’ of responsible business,” she said. “Leave behind that focus on the share price to the exclusion of all else. The biggest lesson of Brexit is not just about politics or Europe, it’s about creating a new socioeconomic contract for the 21st century.”