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McDonald’s vows to bolster diversity within its system

The company also announced that it is working with the Mayo Clinic to help with its coronavirus response.
Photograph: Shutterstock

Acknowledging that it has “work to do” to promote diversity, McDonald’s this week vowed to improve inclusion throughout its system, including franchisees and suppliers.

Speaking on a virtual conference Wednesday called Worldwide Connection, the company’s executives promised to take actions to reduce hiring bias and reduce barriers to equality and to attract a more diverse set of franchisees around the world.

The company also said it would set goals and track its progress annually, while pushing its suppliers to take the same step.

“For our Black friends and neighbors and colleagues of color, the devastation of COVID is matched by the pain and frustration they feel over just how far we still have to go to achieve justice in the world,” CEO Chris Kempczinski said during an hour-long Worldwide Connection video shared with members of the media.

“Some people in our system feel they haven’t been given a fair opportunity,” he added. “We have to face that fact and do better.”

The announcement of its diversity goals came at the same time that McDonald’s said it would start working with the Mayo Clinic to provide expertise in infection prevention to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

Professionals from the two companies plan to meet regularly to discuss the pandemic and best practices to help the chain devise strategies to prevent the virus’s spread. “The public health crisis is far from over,” Kempczinski said in a statement. “Consulting with Mayo Clinic allows us to further apply leading edge science to our restaurant practices.”

The dual announcements demonstrate the two massive challenges facing McDonald’s just eight months into Kempczinski’s tenure, one that began with a crisis specific to the Chicago-based burger giant when his predecessor, Steve Easterbrook, was fired over an affair with a staffer.

In taking his position, Kempczinski promised to listen to employees and make significant changes. The coronavirus interrupted that effort in March when restaurants around the world were shut down to mitigate its spread.

Protests around the country that erupted with the deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky., also shed light on diversity challenges throughout the industry. Those challenges are reflected in the executive teams of public restaurant companies, none of which currently has a Black CEO.

McDonald’s has historically courted customers of color, and in particular Black customers. Yet Black franchisees within the system revealed late last year that they make less than their white counterparts, according to the publication Business Insider.  

In its commitment to promote diversity, McDonald’s said its goal is to represent the diverse communities where it operates restaurants, judging that diversity based on the makeup of the different international markets.

It also promised to “accelerate cultures of inclusion and belonging” and would “dismantle barriers to economic opportunity.”

The company said it would address hiring bias and reduce barriers for consideration of underrepresented populations to “increase the diversity of our leadership.”

McDonald’s said it would also improve its effort to recruit diverse franchisees, who operate the vast majority of the system’s 38,000 global restaurants.

The effort also extends to suppliers. McDonald’s said it would reduce barriers for diverse suppliers to enter the system and would increase spending with those groups. It also said it would audit its advertising and restaurant experiences to ensure that “they reflect the needs of our customers.”

McDonald’s said it would share more details about this effort in the coming weeks.

The company set its guidelines for diversity as part of a set of five values management has set in the months since Kempczinski’s elevation to the CEO job. Those values include:

  • Put customers and people first.
  • Open doors to everyone, focusing on inclusion.
  • Doing the right thing, or “do the right thing for the right reasons.”
  • Be good neighbors, “fulfilling our purpose to feed and foster community at the local level.”
  • Get better together, or “constantly working to make ourselves better for our own family and the families we serve.”

“We are going to let our values be our guide,” Kempczinski said in the video.

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