At the end of all my keynote speeches on inclusion, I leave my audiences with the three keys to making the world a better place: Consciousness, Courage and Compassion. So, when I saw the recent Burger King anti-bullying commercial I stood up and applauded!! I haven’t been in a Burger King in decades and I don’t even eat meat, but this commercial alone made me a fan of the franchise.
The ad shows a young boy being bullied in BK by other kids, and although many customers witness this disturbing behavior, the majority of them do nothing to interrupt the bullying. I immediately thought: now this is a company that’s boldly executing on my 3 Keys. It’s demonstrating that it’s Conscious of the issues that many of its customers, especially young people, face every day. It’s Courageous enough to say that, yes, a burger company can speak out against a pervasive societal ill. And it’s calling on all of us to be Compassionate enough to stand up when we see others being treated cruelly.
Recently, several companies, including Pepsi, Procter & Gamble and Anheuser Busch, have tried with mixed success to send meaningful messages on social and cultural issues. The Burger King commercial gets it right. It takes our ongoing cultural conversation about bullying a brave step forward by exposing the awkward inaction of the bystanders—those who see bullying and other shameful acts and decide to do nothing about it, but raise their voices in protest when they’ve been served “bullied” burgers. Brilliant!
As we witness too often in our workplaces, communities and families, we’re often silent about the pain of others, despite our insistence that we are good people. But the truth is, our silence makes us complicit with those who do the victimizing. I understand that people have their reasons for not standing up, but the folks at BK have reminded us how compassion looks and acts. They show the few customers who do decide to stand up, move toward the young man in distress and ask, “Are you okay?” showing us that sometimes this simple question is the beginning of us making our world a better place. Congrats, Burger King, on a job well done.