We’re committed to respectingHuman Rights

The basis of our entire business is that we are ethical, truthful and dependable.” These words are as relevant today as they were when spoken by McDonald’s founder, Ray Kroc, in 1958.

 

 

Why it matters

Human rights are universal rights that are intrinsic to every human being; they include the right to equality and freedom from discrimination. While individual states have a duty to protect human rights, it is widely acknowledged that businesses also have a responsibility to respect them within their sphere of influence.

With a complex supply chain and a global workforce, involving suppliers and Franchisees from diverse locations, cultures and socioeconomic circumstances, McDonald’s has a deep responsibility to respect the rights of people who work for the Company, and to do business with Franchisees, suppliers and business partners that respect human rights for their respective employees. Under the philosophy of “none of us is as good as all of us,” McDonald’s strives to be fair, and to conduct business in a manner that respects people on both sides of the counter around the world.

We recognize there is no single solution to human rights issues, which is why it’s critical that we engage all stakeholders within the McDonald’s System, including McDonald’s employees, suppliers, Franchisees and business partners, to respect the fundamental rights for all people. Aligned with the Company’s values, this approach protects the integrity of the McDonald’s brand and also helps suppliers, Franchisees and partners protect human rights around the world.

 

On this page:

Our approach | Our actions

 

Our approach

 

Implementing human rights standards

At the Company, we conduct our activities in a manner that respects human rights as set out in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.We take seriously our responsibility to act with due diligence to avoid infringing on the human rights of others and addressing any impact on human rights if they occur. Our commitment to respect human rights is defined in our Standards of Business Conduct (pdf, 3.35MB), which apply to all employees of the Company, and in our Supplier Code of Conduct (pdf, 1.3MB), which applies to McDonald's suppliers globally.

We’re in the process of reviewing our approach and policies related to protecting human rights, with the aim of launching a human rights policy statement that gives greater transparency and clarity on our commitments. We’re using internationally recognized standards, including the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and the views of external stakeholders to guide this process.

Through our efforts to respect human rights we aim to support the UN Sustainable Development Goals, a global agenda to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all, specifically:

Read more about our work to support the global goals.

 

Preventing forced labor

As a business, we also support the goals of the U.K. Modern Slavery Act, with McDonald’s UK publishing its first U.K. Modern Slavery Act statement in 2017. The Company does not use any form of slave, forced, bonded, indentured or involuntary prison labor.

This also means the Company is committed to ethical recruitment in our employment practices. We prohibit direct or indirect fees or costs being charged to those seeking employment with or who are employed by the Company for the services directly related to recruitment for temporary or permanent job placement, unless legally permissible and within the legal limit. This includes where we may use private recruitment services, a labor broker or employment agent or where we perform recruitment activities directly. Even where such fees or costs are legally permissible and within the legal limit, our policies and practices are designed to ensure that no one is indebted to the Company or to a recruiter, labor broker or employment agent in a manner that prohibits the individual from freely leaving his or her employment. Likewise, we do not retain employees’ original government-issued identification, passports, or work permits as a condition of employment (we may hold copies and/or temporarily hold onto such documents for no longer than 24 hours and to the extent reasonably necessary to complete legitimate administrative and immigration processing and/or comply with local law). Finally, the Company provides any agreements, whether oral or in writing, in a language understood by the person agreeing to be bound and expects that any recruiter, labor broker or employment agent will do the same and will be responsible for ensuring that the agreement is understood by the person agreeing to be bound.

We do not engage in human trafficking or exploitation, or import goods tainted by slavery or human trafficking. The Company is committed to the elimination of any forced labor in our business and our supply chain. McDonald’s Supplier Code of Conduct applies to our suppliers and is aligned with these goals and standards.

 

Respecting employee rights around the world

We’re committed to providing a safe work environment that fosters respect, fairness and dignity. Company employees are trained annually on the Standards of Business Conduct and are required to certify their understanding of and commitment to upholding the Standards.

We provide many channels for communication for our employees to report ethics or human rights concerns. This includes an anonymous channel, the Business Integrity Line, staffed by a live operator from an independent company 24 hours a day, every day of the year. To read more about how the Company is committed to our people, see our Standards of Business Conduct (pdf, 3.3MB).

Find out more on:
Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement
Our Investment in People

 

Promoting human rights in our supply chain

The success of the McDonald’s System lies in our trusted relationships with suppliers. We expect all suppliers, regardless of the cultural, social and economic context, to meet our expectations of fundamental rights for all people. This means treating their employees with fairness, respect and dignity, and following practices that protect health and safety for the people working in their facilities, all in compliance with national and local law. We expect our suppliers to hold their own suppliers to the same standards contained in our Supplier Code of Conduct (pdf, 1.3MB).

The Supplier Code of Conduct is the cornerstone of our Supplier Workplace Accountability (SWA) program, which aims to help suppliers understand our expectations, verify compliance with our expectations and work toward continuous improvement. We launched our first Supplier Code of Conduct in 1993 and have continued to evolve and strengthen it, to reflect updated international human rights standards, consultation with external experts in supplier workplace accountability, a human rights gap analysis and dialogue with suppliers. We expect, and provide guidance to assist, our suppliers to meet the standards for human rights, workplace environment, business integrity and environmental management contained in the Supplier Code of Conduct.  We also expect supplier self-excellence in these four areas through their implementation of their own management systems.   

McDonald’s Supplier Guidance Document is shared with all suppliers and provides detailed guidance on how a supplier can comply with each aspect of the Code of Conduct and how suppliers and their supply chains can meet our expectations. For example, the Supplier Guidance Document clearly explains our expectation: (1) that suppliers ensure that their hiring process and the hiring process of their recruitment agencies provide people employment under voluntary terms; (2) that suppliers should maintain legally accepted age verification records to demonstrate all workers are of legal working age when they commenced work; (3) that suppliers respect the right to associate or not associate with any group of their choice, as permitted by law, without fear of reprisal, intimidation, or harassment; and (4) that suppliers respect the rights of people to bargain collectively where such rights are established by law or contract.

Fundamental to our Supplier Code of Conduct is an expectation of ethical employment practices by our suppliers and their supply chain, including subcontractors and third-party labor agencies. Our Code clearly prohibits any form of slave, forced, bonded, indentured, or involuntary prison labor and prohibits suppliers and third-party labor agencies from retaining employees’ government-issued identification, passports or work permits as a condition of employment.  We also expect our suppliers to provide their own internal reporting mechanisms, to ensure their employees have a safe and timely way to report workplace concerns without the fear of retaliation.

 

Grievance mechanisms and due-diligence within the supply chain

Our Code indicates that we expect suppliers to create internal grievance mechanisms and programs for handling reports of workplace grievances, including anonymous reports. Our Supplier Guidance Document provides a step by step best practice process to help suppliers establish an effective grievance mechanism, guided by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. McDonald’s also provides channels for people within our supply chain to report ethics or human rights concerns within our supply chain, including an email to reach the SWA global management team. Our Code explicitly states that the suppliers’ reporting programs must protect the worker’s confidentiality and must prohibit retaliation in response to reporting issues.

Human rights due diligence is incorporated into the SWA program, which includes on-site audits conducted by third-party auditing firms to assess compliance with our Code. These on-site audits include a review of ethical recruitment practices to verify that workers are employed under voluntary conditions and have freedom of movement. This includes verification that workers are not charged illegal fees as a condition of employment, worker contracts are in local language and signed by the worker, and that suppliers do not retain workers’ government-issued identification, passports or work permits.

Instances of non-compliance are shared with the supplier during an audit closing meeting and in an audit report. Suppliers are required to complete a corrective and preventative action plan to address non-compliance. The plan must provide specific time frames within which corrective action will be taken, root causes analyzed, and policies and procedures updated. In addition, the plan must be designed to avoid recurrence of the non-compliance and establish specific accountability. In instances of significant non-compliance, suppliers are subject to a follow-up audit, the timing of which is based on the audit findings.

McDonald’s SWA program is designed to support suppliers in meeting our standards. However, there are circumstances under which McDonald's will remove a supplier from the supply chain to address instances of significant non-compliance with McDonald's Supplier Code of Conduct.

Our SWA program is built on the model of continuous improvement and we recognize our ongoing responsibility to regularly review and assess the human rights risks along our supply chain.

 

Our actions

 

Supporting continuous improvement of suppliers

Our SWA program is built on a model of continuous improvement and education. We provide suppliers and McDonald’s Global Supply Chain and Sustainability team with training to understand the SWA requirements and human rights issues. The SWA program includes an online training platform where suppliers can access optional tools and resources that provide guidance on human rights issues, such as preventing forced labor. Training modules include; Ensuring Eligibility to Work, Protecting the Rights of Migrant Labor, and Implementing Grievance Mechanisms. For example, the Migrant Labor training aims to educate suppliers on the risks related to forced labor when sourcing migrant labor and key actions they can take to ensure they are protecting the rights of migrant workers in their facilities. Live training sessions provided by a third party are also held with our suppliers on human rights issues and in 2017 training was offered to suppliers in Malaysia on forced labor, grievance mechanisms, and managing migrant labor through AIM-PROGRESS. In addition to providing optional training to suppliers through third party organizations, we also provide in-person and webinar trainings to McDonald’s supply chain procurement employees on SWA and human rights issues through the year.

 

Verifying compliance against the Supplier Code of Conduct

In 2017, we had a total of 3,733 facilities participating in the SWA program. As part of the on-boarding process to become a McDonald’s supplier, suppliers must complete the required steps of the SWA program (outlined below) to verify that our suppliers can meet our expectations before they begin supplying product to McDonald’s. Our SWA program also includes on-site announced and unannounced audits conducted by third-party auditing firms to assess compliance with our Code. We work with a range of third party auditing firms around the world with expert knowledge and local insight including understanding local languages and cultures. On-site audits are physical inspections of the facility and will include visits to housing and cafeterias for workers. In addition, the monitoring firms also conduct private worker interviews and review facility records and business practices to assess compliance with the Code. During the on-site audit, auditors verify the supplier’s compliance with each aspect of the Code, such as verifying that all workers are of legal age to work. In addition to maintaining legally accepted age verification records, suppliers are also expected to invest in remediation systems in the event an underage person is hired, to assist in their return to their school or any other solution that can cater to the child’s best interest.

Step 1: Online training to help suppliers understand what is expected of them.

 

Step 2: Suppliers complete a rigorous annual self-assessment questionnaire to appraise their current systems and practices. This results in a report indicating areas for improvement.

 

Step 3: Third-party firms conduct announced and unannounced audits, which include inspections of facilities and workers’ cafeterias and accommodation. Auditors also interview workers, and review records and business practices to assess compliance with our Supplier Code of Conduct.

 

Step 4: The auditing firm shares any noncompliances with the supplier, who is required to produce an action plan to address and remedy the issues, ensuring there is no recurrence. In the case of serious noncompliances, a follow-up audit will be carried out to monitor progress. The SWA program is built on a model of continuous improvement; however, if there are instances of significant noncompliance with McDonald’s Supplier Code of Conduct, the Company may remove the supplier from the supply chain. The frequency of subsequent audits is determined based on the results of these on-boarding activities.

 

Monitoring human rights risks within our supply chain and evolving the SWA program

An important element of our human rights due diligence approach is understanding global and national human rights risks and using this information to evolve the SWA program. We assess the potential human rights risks of our supply chains through desk-based research, supply chain mapping and on-site audits, and stakeholder engagement.

To better inform our understanding of human rights risk within our supply chain, we also work with Verisk Maplecroft to use their expertise in risk analytics to identify countries with particular human rights challenges. A key indicator of risk we use is the country of origin where we are sourcing products or raw materials from. For example, we use analysis of country level human rights risks to help inform the audit cycles for our suppliers. Facilities situated in countries that are considered to be at high risk of such practices require more regular on-site audits regardless of the outcome of previous audits.

In 2018, we also began working with Verisk Maplecroft to conduct a human rights impact assessment of key commodities in our supply chains. By identifying the most salient human rights issues within these supply chains, we aim to strengthen our risk management procedures, develop appropriate improvement plans, and increase awareness of these issues within our business.

 

Partnering for progress

To continue to ensure our supplier program addresses emerging human rights issues and risks, we participate in initiatives such as AIM-PROGRESS, which supports responsible sourcing, and Business for Social Responsibility’s Human Rights Working Group (HRWG), which supports implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in a shared-learning forum of more than 40 companies.

We also believe that real, systemic change throughout the supply chain requires partnership with industry. That’s why we joined the ICTI Care Program for our Happy Meals toys scheme in 2016, bringing together industry partners to support a sustainable supply chain for the toy and entertainment industry.