On March 8, as communities around the world celebrated International Women’s Day, McDonald’s announced the launch of its new BETTER TOGETHER: Gender Balance & Diversity strategy. By 2023, the company said it aims to improve the representation of women at all levels of McDonald’s, achieve gender equality in career advancement, and champion the impact of women on the business. In addition, McDonald’s signed the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles to further mark the company’s commitment to progress.
“Gender balance and diversity makes McDonald’s stronger,” says McDonald’s chief people officer, David Fairhurst. “Together with our franchisees, McDonald’s provides jobs for almost 2 million people across the world and is one of the world’s largest employers of women. We’re committed to inspiring workplaces where everyone—from crew to c-suite—is equally supported and empowered to realize their full potential. But we also want to drive progress on a global scale by encouraging franchisees, suppliers and other partners to deliver initiatives that drive gender balance and improve diversity, with the goal of reaching millions of women worldwide. 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.”
The four pillars of the strategy will guide McDonald’s in developing key milestones and piloting a range of activities to promote gender balance:
- Representation: 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.
- Rising: Enhance equality in career advancement for men and women.
- Recognition: Celebrate the voices and impact of women in the business and report on progress globally.
- Reach: Achieve progress on a global scale by encouraging franchisees and suppliers to deliver strategies that drive gender balance and improve diversity, with the goal of reaching millions of women worldwide.
McDonald’s will advance education and development programs to support women to progress, it said. As part of this, McDonald’s is piloting a new “Women in Tech” initiative through its signature education and tuition assistance program, Archways to Opportunity, to enable women from company-owned restaurants and participating franchisee restaurants to learn skills in areas such as data science, cyber security, artificial intelligence and more. The goal of this initiative is to support broader representation of women in technology fields and support employees on their path to success—at McDonald’s and beyond. The pilot will start in the U.S. this spring with the goal of rolling it out to more countries in the future. McDonald’s will work with Microsoft to provide the technical skills curriculum and Colorado Technical University to deliver access to the learning. This initiative will offer U.S. participants college credits, a credential upon completion and help them build a foundation for lifelong learning that’s necessary to compete in this 21st century economy.
At present, 30 percent of McDonald’s Officer positions and 41 percent of staff positions at Director level and above are held by women globally, and in the U.S., 60 percent of all restaurant managers are women. Key actions McDonald’s will take to further improve representation and progression include: using gender neutral job-descriptions in English speaking countries for office and restaurant roles, increasing diverse candidate slates and interview panels, as well as investing in tools that use artificial intelligence to recognize and root out bias from the selection process. McDonald’s will also review its high-potential talent pools to promote gender balance and accelerate their careers through executive mentoring and sponsorship.
To mark the launch with a statement of support for workplace inclusion, McDonald’s CEO, Steve Easterbrook and other senior leaders across the business took to LinkedIn—the world’s largest job site. By switching their profile pictures for the McDonald’s arches turned upside down, the leaders aim to raise awareness of unconscious bias and the importance of mitigating it. Having reached over 10,000 employees with bias awareness training, McDonald’s is committed to its continued global roll out, and integrating the training into existing education platforms, talent management processes, leadership development, and training for talent agency partners.
In the U.S., McDonald’s was included in the YWCA and Impact Shares ETF, WOMN, as well as having been recognized by both Catalyst and Human Rights Campaign as a company that is championing equality in the workplace