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McDonald’s starts a push for gender balance

The company’s new strategy aims to improve gender equality in career advancement.
Photograph courtesy of McDonald's Corp.

McDonald’s Corp. on Friday announced the launch of a new program aimed at improving the representation of women at all levels of the company and achieve gender equality in career advancement.

The company launched a strategy called “Better Together: Gender Balance & Diversity” that aims to make these improvements in gender representation by 2023. And the company has signed the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles—an effort to push private sector employers to increase gender equality.

McDonald’s made the announcement to celebrate International Women’s Day on Friday.

The company said that its strategy has four pillars to guide the company as it works to promote more gender balance. McDonald’s plans to aim for the representation of women at every level in the business to be equal to or better than the representation of women in the external workforce.

The company would also improve equality in career advancement, celebrate the voices and impact of women in the business and encourage its franchisees and suppliers to develop strategies to improve gender balance.

The company said that 60% of its restaurant managers are women, while 30% of the company’s officer positions are held by women, who hold 41% of global director-level positions.

The company said it would take actions to improve diversity, including gender-neutral job descriptions in English speaking countries, increasing diverse candidate slates and interview panels and investing in artificial intelligence to root out bias in the selection process. McDonald’s also said that it would review its high-potential talent pools to promote gender balance.

The company said it would use education and development programs to support women. McDonald’s is piloting a new “Women in Tech” initiative through its education and tuition assistance program called Archways to Opportunity. That could enable women at its company-owned and franchisee-owned restaurants to learn skills in areas like data science, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.

The company said the effort’s goal is to support the broader representation of women in technology fields and support employees. The pilot will start in the U.S. this spring and will roll out to more countries in the future.

McDonald’s said it is working with Microsoft to provide the technical skills curriculum and Colorado Technical University to deliver access to the program. Participants can receive college credits and a credential upon completion.

“Gender balance and diversity makes McDonald’s stronger,” McDonald’s Chief People Officer David Fairhurst said in a statement, noting that the company is one of the world’s largest employers of women. “Our new strategy will help deliver this commitment and is designed to ensure that we’re clearly defining and hitting our targets, day-in and day-out.”

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