McDonald's tackles harassment and discrimination with new global brand standards

McDonald’s has unveiled a new set of global brand standards, which is aimed to further a culture of physical and psychological safety for employees and customers through the prevention of violence, harassment and discrimination. The new brand standards prioritise actions in four areas: harassment, discrimination and retaliation prevention; workplace violence prevention; restaurant employee feedback; as well as health and safety. These standards were informed by a cross-functional global team, reviews of global market practices and perspectives from across the McDonald’s system. 

The set of brand standards will apply to 39,000 McDonald’s restaurants, both company-owned and franchisee locations, in more than 100 countries. Implementation will be supported by a suite of policies, tools, trainings and reporting mechanisms. This is "a significant step forward in its commitment to fostering safe, respectful and inclusive workplaces", the fast-food giant said. 

Beginning in January 2022, restaurants will be assessed and held accountable in accordance with the applicable McDonald’s market’s business evaluation processes. This allows each market to implement the brand standards in the way that is most effective. The new global brand standards are said to help identify and scale best practices across the industry by setting a clear path for action and accountability. Additionally, the company will continue to work in partnership with experts globally to provide expertise, training and tools that support the implementation of the standards for franchisees.  

“There are no short cuts to ensuring that people feel safe, respected and included at a McDonald’s restaurant. This work starts by taking big, intentional moves. Our new global brand standards reinforce our commitment to living our values such that at every interaction, everyone is welcome, comfortable and safe," McDonald’s president and chief executive officer Chris Kempczinski said.

Showing support for the brand standards from the franchises, Reto Egger, speaker group chair of the European Franchisee Leadership Group and franchise owner, added that McDonald’s has a responsibility and an opportunity to use its tremendous scale to drive change globally. “These refreshed standards and heightened measures of accountability are central to our culture, our business goals and the need in our society to foster more respect, safety and inclusion," Egger said.

The new global brand standards come as McDonald's has recently been embroiled with the accusation of discrimination and inappropriate relations in the company. According to BBC, a Black owner sued McDonald's earlier in February for discrimination, stating that the firm did not give Black owners equal opportunities as its White owners. This includes placing them in stores in "distressed, predominantly black" areas. The Black owner, Herb Washington, also said McDonald's retaliated against him after he raised concerns.

Meanwhile last year, McDonald's was placed under the spotlight after its former CEO Stephen Easterbrook was found to have demonstrated inappropriate personal behaviour. According to the legal document seen by MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, McDonald's alleged that Easterbrook had been involved in sexual relationships with three additional company employees prior to his termination, all in violation of company policy.

The legal document explained that the internal investigation discovered photographic evidence consisting of "dozens of nude, partially nude, or sexually explicit photographs and videos of various women, including photographs of [the three] company employees, that Easterbrook had sent as attachments to messages from his company e-mail account to his personal e-mail account". The date and time stamps on the photographs of the three company employees show that the photographs were all taken in late 2018 or early 2019.

(Photo courtesy: 123RF)

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