(Bloomberg) -- McDonald’s Corp. is promising to recruit and train a more diverse set of franchisees across the world, adding more Black and female owners in the U.S., according to an internal message viewed by Bloomberg News.

McDonald’s will be more inclusive in finding and training possible franchisees both in its home market and in international markets such as Germany, the U.K. and France, Chief Executive Officer Chris Kempczinski said in the message Wednesday. The company will provide $250 million to help finance loans for underrepresented groups including Black, Hispanic and female potential restaurant owners over five years in the U.S., he said, noting that costs to buy a restaurant are often an especially difficult barrier for candidates with diverse backgrounds.

Companies are increasingly being called to task following the murder of George Floyd Jr. last year that sparked nationwide protests and a closer look at inequities. Already, Chicago-based McDonald’s has said it’s boosting minority representation in leadership, and tracking and sharing those efforts to improve equality. In July, the company pledged to boost spending with suppliers owned by women and minorities domestically.

As of 2020, more than 29% of all U.S. franchisees were from underrepresented groups, including Asian, Black and Hispanic owners, McDonald’s said. Meanwhile, women made up almost 29% of domestic store owners. In its U.S. efforts, McDonald’s is using community groups to identify and reach qualified candidates of different backgrounds. Internationally, the efforts are underway already, the company said.

In recent years, the company has faced a number of lawsuits from Black McDonald’s store owners, including one where franchisees of Tennessee restaurants accused the company of discrimination and setting them up to fail in crime-heavy locations. The company is defending itself against the allegations. 

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