February 28, 2021

Leaning into our values

The following message was sent to McDonald’s franchisees, suppliers and employees globally.

When we came together last July to celebrate our values in the first-ever virtual global gathering in our 65-year history, we talked at length about our McDonald’s family. “Like a family,” I said, “we go up or down together. When we do something well, it reflects well on all of us. If we struggle, we struggle together.”  

Over the past year, I’ve made clear that one of the lessons I’ve taken from Ray Kroc is that it’s the role of the CEO not just to live our values, but to reiterate them as often as possible. That means celebrating the milestones that exemplify the best of who we are and what we stand for. And it means reminding us of our values when they are called into question—which is why you’re hearing from me today.

Recently, several allegations have been levied against our System, both through the media and in court, including assertions that we limited the success of a group of our former franchisees and criticisms around what the company does to keep employees safe. Today, in the US, a TV segment on CBS Sunday Morning outlined a variety of sexual harassment allegations at certain McDonald’s restaurants.

Let me say plainly: every single person working under the Arches must have a safe and respectful work environment. Sexual harassment in the workplace is an affront to everything we stand for as a System. It has no place in any McDonald’s restaurant, and it will not be tolerated.

As CEO, I assure you that we take these allegations very seriously. We, as a System, must ensure that every allegation is fully and thoroughly investigated. If ever we find that we’ve fallen short of our values, we must acknowledge our mistakes and make them right. McDonald’s isn’t perfect, but we are steadfast in our efforts to improve our System each and every day. That’s what it means to “get better together.”

None of us should feel hesitant to speak out if we see something that’s out of line with our values, which is why every member of the McDonald’s family plays an important role as an ally. Looking out for one another, and speaking up for each other, is both an imperative and a responsibility we all share – one that makes us all stronger. It’s the essence of our value “to do the right thing.”

Far from shying away from them, in the case of the sexual harassment allegations detailed in the CBS Sunday Morning story, I want to recognize these individuals and acknowledge their courage. Any person who steps forward to report concerns or issues deserves our utmost respect.

To realize our ambition, we need everyone’s full support to be not just one of the world’s most respected organizations, but one of its most admired. Identifying and quickly rectifying any wrongdoing is how we earn others’ trust and admiration.

I greatly appreciate the strong statement issued today by our US owner-operator leadership. It reaffirms their collective commitment to promote a culture that provides managers and crew with strong foundations, including comprehensive, safe and respectful workplace trainings. I’ve also asked Joe Erlinger, Ian Borden, Heidi Capozzi and Katie Fallon to review our current policies and programs regarding workplace safety across the global System. We intend to understand current best practices, solicit the input of franchisees and crew, and define a set of Global Brand Standards that we can communicate later this year. We must ensure that everyone understands a common set of McDonald’s expectations for a safe and respectful workplace in both our company-owned and franchised restaurants.

As the largest restaurant brand and one of the most recognized brands in the world, we know that we face added scrutiny for our values and actions. We should all welcome that scrutiny.  It makes us better and ensures that we continue to maintain the highest standards for our System.

We must use this moment as a time to reflect on ways we can all do more to live our values. McDonald’s will always be a work in progress, but our trajectory is unrelentingly upwards.  I am honored to work with each of you to serve our customers and communities, and role model our values.

Thank you.

Chris