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).


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.   

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.

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


Suppliers and continuous improvement

Our SWA program is built on a model of continuous improvement and education. We provide suppliers with training to understand the SWA requirements and how to comply with our standards. In 2017, we had a total of 3,733 facilities participating in the SWA program.

We continuously monitor human rights risks within our supply chain and evolve the SWA program.

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.


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.