McDonald’s, along with its National Franchisee Leadership Alliance, a group representing more than 2,000 operators, announced Wednesday a new training and engagement initiative.
The program aims to “support a professional, safe, and respective workplace,” McDonald’s said.
The chain will educate roughly 850,000 employees working at restaurants nationwide “with important information, resources, and training that support building healthy relationships and trusting work environments.”
The effort kicks off in October and builds off McDonald’s training launched in fall 2018, which was completed by 95 percent of U.S. franchisees and GMs.
“There is a deeply important conversation around safe and respectful workplaces in communities throughout the U.S. and around the world,” USA president Chris Kempczinski said in a statement. “Together with our franchisees, we have a responsibility to take action on this issue and are committed to promoting positive change. These actions are one more step we are taking to raise awareness at all levels of McDonald’s that will transfer both inside and outside the workplace.”
Dorothy Stingley, a member of the National Franchisee Leadership Alliance executive team and president of McDonald’s Women Operators Network, said the group expects each of the 2,000-plus U.S. franchisees to commit to implementing the program.
“People come to work at a McDonald’s because they want the chance to be a part of a community and grow as individuals. Our job as employers is to make that possible while fostering an environment where those ambitions are never compromised by concerns of safety,” said Stingley, who is also a franchise owner and 36-year McDonald’s veteran. “As franchisees, we’re developing comprehensive programs centered on building healthy relationships, trusting environments and resolving conflict to support our people in all facets of their lives—at work, at home and out in their communities.”
Supervisor and crew members will be trained through a combination of interactive and computer-based training programs, and in-person discussions, McDonald’s said.
Discussions will revolve around the following areas:
- Mitigating Workplace Violence: Will train employees to recognize indicators and develop the skills and confidence they need to safely diffuse difficult situations that may arise with customers, employees, and others.
- Safe and Respectful Workplace: Will educate supervisors and crew on harassment, discrimination and retaliation prevention, how to report a complaint and, importantly, how to appropriately engage as a bystander.
- Unconscious Bias: Will build understanding for supervisors and crew on how unconscious bias can negatively impact relationships and that there are stereotypes, both negative and positive that exist in our subconscious that can affect our behavior and perceptions.
- Anti-Bullying: Will support identification and prevention of bullying behavior of all kinds both in and outside of the workplace.
- Bystander: Will review different bystander scenarios, power dynamics, and mitigation tactics.
The chain will collect feedback through surveys and discussion groups from employees, franchisees, and outside experts “to inform future enhancements to the training,” McDonald’s said. The curriculum for the next phase should arrive in 2020.
The brand also listed some additional efforts that support the program:
- Enhanced policy on discrimination, harassment and retaliation prevention in January 2019 informed by RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. The policy contains clear language on workplace conduct, manager responsibilities, employee resources, and the investigation process. The full policy, which applies at all corporate-owned restaurants is made available as a resource to franchisees, is available here, embedded in McDonald’s larger global human rights commitment.
- Extended resources in June 2019 and McDonald’s Corporation now offers a free intake hotline to call with any employment concerns that franchisees may offer to their employees to supplement what franchisees offer in their organizations.
- Committed to annual policy and training reviews informed by continuous feedback from stakeholders, employees, and franchisees.
- Developed global gender balance and diversity strategy. By 2023, McDonald’s Corporation aims to improve the representation of women at all levels, achieve gender equality in rewards and career advancement, and better recognize the impact of women on its business. As part of this initiative, in March McDonald’s signed on to the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles to help accelerate global efforts to address this critical issue.
- Reiterated Long-Standing Inclusive Contractual Practices. McDonald’s Corporation does not and will not, as a condition of employment, require mandatory arbitration of harassment and discrimination claims.
In May, McDonald’s was hit with 25 new sexual harassment charges and lawsuits. The Fight for $15 and a Union, with support from the American Civil Liberties Union and the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund, announced May 21 more than two dozen charges, which alleged “a trail of illegal conduct in both corporate and franchise McDonald’s restaurants across 20 cities,” they said in a combined release.
On May 20, McDonald’s responded with a letter to an inquiry from U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth over the fast-food chain’s handling of harassment complaints. Reviewed by Bloomberg, chief executive officer Steve Easterbrook said McDonald’s was training employees to deal with harassment, and starting a hotline for victims. He said the company was committed “to ensuring a harassment and bias-free workplace.”
The Fight for $15 and a Union, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Futures Without Violence issued a statement following Wednesday’s news.
“The resulting training, announced today, might be good PR, but it isn’t a solution. Training workers to know right from wrong is meaningless if workers who report misconduct are ignored, or worse, punished. Training is useless if those who ignore its lessons face no consequences,” the statement said.