Burger King boss apologises to UK women for calling them unattractive

14 Mar

The global boss of Burger King has been forced to apologise for calling British women “unattractive” and British food “terrible”.

Brazilian-born Bernardo Hees, who became chief executive of the fast-food chain six months ago, had been talking to students at the University of Chicago that he found it easy to study in England (he did an MBA at the University of Warwick) because of the lack of female or culinary distractions.

Burger King issued an apology, saying: “Mr Hees apologises if his comment has offended anyone. It was intended as a humorous anecdote to connect with his audience.”

Firstly, I can’t believe someone would make comments like that in a public forum. I wonder what his hiring policy is in the workplace – does he only hire women who are attractive? Or would he pay no attention to those who don’t match up to his exacting standards.

Secondly, the irony of this is too blatant to miss: the boss of a fast-food chain criticising British gastronomy? I have to laugh at the ridiculousness of it.

Finally, is this the banter defence all over again? Men at the top thinking that humour is a get-out clause for offensive remarks? I’m reminded of another business leader whose humorous remarks ended up ruining his company name and his reputation, when Gerald Ratner said one of his sherry decanters was “crap”.

I’ll be interested to see what kind of “unattractive” and “terrible” impact Hees’ comments have on his company’s reputation and performance.

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