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Women's History Month

Week 4: Kelly M. - Global Chief People & Transformation Officer

At Taco Bell, we empower our teams to be fearless, embrace different and drive change. We believe that each one of us has a story to tell.

This year’s nationwide Women’s History Month’s focus is Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories, which you can learn more about on nationalwomenshistoryalliance.org.

To honor and celebrate this year’s focus and women at The Bell, we will continue to tell their stories and amplify their voices. We will share their stories every week in the month of March in hopes that they not only educate but inspire you to drive positive and intentional impact within your community.

But first, a little Women’s History Month background... March is dedicated as Women’s History Month in the U.S., United Kingdom, and Australia. In 1982, Women’s History Week was officially launched in the United States. Five years later, the entire month of March was devoted to acknowledging courageous trailblazers across all backgrounds – creating room to celebrate the cultural impact of past, current, and future generations.

Throughout the year, we will continue sharing the incredible stories of our Taco Bell teams; the sharing and celebration doesn’t stop here.


Week 4: Kelly M. - Global Chief People & Transformation Officer

“I view my career as a vehicle through which I can and should make a difference in the world. I have a responsibility and desire to make the workplace more inclusive – for everyone. And it’s not just about race or ethnicity or gender – it’s about style, preferences, thought, etc. I have to constantly challenge my own thinking and my own biases. As the Chief People & Transformation Officer, if I’m not doing this, how can I ask our employees to do this?”

That’s Kelly. That’s the way she leads and shows up each and every day.

But she doesn’t just show up for employees, she shows up for her family. As a mother, wife, daughter, friend, sister – the list goes on – she shows up.

Recently, Kelly brought her daughter to the Taco Bell HQ to experience what her mom does day-in and day-out and open her mind to her future possibilities. “[She needs to know] that the sky is the limit for her. [I know] she needs to see me be kind, friendly, knowledgeable on a subject, confident, fun-loving, strategic, decisive. Some of those behaviors are at times described as ‘bossy’ – particularly when a woman behaves this way. Let’s change the narrative on that – it’s not bossy, it’s knowing what you want and being confident in the path to achieve it. There is nothing wrong with that – that’s what is needed in the workplace.”

As women, mothers, partners, etc., showing up in all these ways can be hard. For Kelly, there’s no one way to do anything. Women can chart their own path and be confident, and in turn, figure it out. And the best part? Even if you don’t make the right decisions, that’s okay!

“... there’s no rule that says you can’t rework your steps. Don’t read articles that make you feel bad about yourself and all the things you’re not doing. We do enough of that in our own heads, I don’t need someone else in my head, too!”

In today’s workforce, women being there for each other is key and striving to make more room for people at our tables, opens opportunities for all. “Pull up more chairs. Let others be a part of the conversation or job shadow, and then debrief what they learned or observed. I find that when I do this, people learn faster and I actually learn from their perspective, too. Just because someone doesn’t have a degree in that particular subject, or they don’t have direct experience in the space being discussed does not mean they don’t have anything helpful and meaningful to add to the conversation. Don’t make assumptions.”

Kelly has used her experiences throughout her career to carve the path she is taking now. From working in high school with her mom putting up wallpaper in her small town to starting her Yum! Brands career 17+ years ago as a Field Staffing Leader to moving to the KFC UK team on an assignment... her path to success had a lot of different experiences and she plans to continue that path.

“[If you have similar aspirations], have the confidence that you can do it, but the humility to realize you don’t know everything and you never will. Surround yourself with people who are different from you, learn from them, challenge your own thinking. Be brave and take risks.”

If there’s one thing she wants everyone to know about her and other women in leadership, “It’s that we are not perfect. We make mistakes and do our best to learn from them. But we do have some lived experiences that are different, and people should listen to what those experiences are like, reflect on their role in those experiences, and challenge themselves to do better.”

And what’s the legacy she wants to leave? So far, she has helped close the gap of gender parity at the HQ, launch programs like Internal Incubator that bring people from all levels of the organization together to solve business challenges in unique ways... and so much more.

“At the end of the day, I hope that people can say they were better for having known me. Whether that’s through work or my personal relationships.”

For more tips on inclusion, feel free to check out the "5 Ally Actions" Newsletter, which you can voluntarily subscribe to as well.

Check out more people stories!