Contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals
Much of what we, our Franchisees and our suppliers do – provide fulfilling employment with opportunities for continuing education, help reduce waste, more sustainably manage natural resources and address climate change – has the potential to contribute to sustainable development.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is a global agenda established in 2015, with the objective to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. We are proud to support this call to action and, through our work, we believe we are directly and indirectly contributing to a more equal and sustainable future for everyone, in alignment with these objectives.
McDonald’s contributes to many of the agenda’s 17 goals through our System, our scale and our collaborations. This page focuses on the selection of SDGs, and the targets that underpin them, where our work is most related to and where we believe we have the opportunity to make the largest impacts through our business.
- SDG 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
- SDG 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
- SDG 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
- SDG 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
The Global Context
Disparities in access to education, technical and vocational skills development, and decent jobs persist around the world. The COVID-19 pandemic is set to reverse recent progress toward equitable education outcomes, with vulnerable groups being less able to adjust to remote learning. Due to the impacts of the pandemic, the UN has estimated that 101 million children and young people fell below the minimum reading proficiency level in 2020.
Considering this issue, the role of organizations to promote and provide equitable learning opportunities is vital. McDonald’s, together with its Franchisees, sees education as a necessary tool to support and empower our respective employees, enabling us to foster a culture of lifelong learning.
The Most Relevant UN SDG 4 Targets to Our Business
SDG Target 4.4: By 2030, substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship
What McDonald’s Is Doing
Our Signature Learning Approach
We believe that opportunity starts with education. That is why we’re committed to offering equitable access to opportunity so that McDonald’s Company-owned restaurant employees, as well as Franchisees and eligible employees from their organizations, feel empowered to reach their potential.
With eight global campuses and a 60-year legacy of training restaurant employees, Hamburger University® (HU) has served as our platform from which to roll out McDonald’s signature learning and development approach. Through HU, we provide training for Company-owned restaurant employees, as well as Franchisees and eligible employees from their organizations. Through in-person and online learning, we prepare thousands of students for leadership positions in the restaurant industry.
In addition, to ensure restaurant teams are supported from their first day, we are modernizing the delivery of our learning and development tools through easy-to-access, inclusive content that leverages advanced technologies to meet learners where they are. This includes pivoting from traditional training programs to simulation and gamified offerings that support microlearning, as well as translating all training to support learning in native languages.
Ongoing Education and Career Development Support for Restaurant Employees
In many regions, McDonald’s and participating Franchisees are combining workplace training and study and offering apprenticeship programs at various levels. This means that people of all ages and at all stages of their professional journey can build a career, regardless of previous experience or qualifications.
Archways to Opportunity® is a comprehensive education program in the U.S. that offers eligible employees the opportunity to graduate from college, earn a high school diploma, learn English as a second language and gain access to academic and career advising services.
Since 2015, Archways to Opportunity has increased access to education for more than 82,500 people as of year-end 2022. Through the program, more than $185 million has been awarded to more than 65,000 restaurant employees for college tuition assistance.
Our speaker series, “What Makes Us Golden: Empowering Growth,” is available to all employees from Company-owned restaurant crew to corporate personnel. The series includes exclusive events featuring accomplished leaders sharing their experiences and viewpoints. These events are available in 16 languages and come with supplementary resources like discussion guides and videos. Attendees access valuable insights into how leadership skills can lead to personal and professional growth and goal achievement.
Reducing Barriers to Employment for Young People
McDonald’s created the Youth Opportunity program with one objective in mind: reducing barriers to employment for young people. Youth Opportunity helps participants overcome these barriers through pre-employment job readiness training, employment opportunities and workplace development programs.
Our goal is to impact 2 million young people by 2025 in partnership with the International Youth Foundation, which has three decades of experience in youth development around the world. Since the Youth Opportunity program launched in 2018, approximately 1.7 million young people have participated in training programs and/or been hired in McDonald’s Company-owned or franchised restaurants.
The Global Context
Even before the pandemic, the UN estimated that one in five countries was likely to see per capita incomes stagnate or decline. But the economic and financial shocks associated with COVID-19 have caused a recession with job losses, disrupted industrial production, falling commodity prices and market volatility. Collaborative efforts are needed to drive sustained and inclusive economic growth, create employment and improve living standards.
Company employees, which include those in the Company’s corporate and other offices as well as in Company-owned and operated restaurants, totaled over 150,000 worldwide as of year-end 2022. Looking across the System, the over 2 million individuals who work in McDonald’s franchised restaurants around the world are critical to the Company’s success, enabling it to drive long-term value creation and further its purpose and mission.
We believe our scale and reach present opportunities to contribute to full and productive employment and decent work around the world. This starts by having human rights policies and standards in place across our supply chain and restaurants – both Company-owned and franchised. Building from that, we provide competitive compensation to Corporate Staff and Company-owned restaurant employees and reduce barriers to employment for young people.
The Most Relevant SDG 8 Targets to Our Business
SDG Target 8.5: By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value
SDG Target 8.8: Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants and those in precarious employment
What McDonald’s Is Doing
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
McDonald’s is dedicated to creating a more equal, equitable workplace, undertaking such initiatives as equal pay for equal work, creating inclusive workplaces, and increasing the representation of women and Underrepresented Groups at the leadership level in our organization.
Respecting Human Rights
We believe that businesses like McDonald’s have a responsibility to respect human rights within their sphere of influence – and we take that responsibility seriously. We know we can be a force for good in communities and empower our business partners and suppliers to do the same.
Preventing Forced Labor
McDonald’s does not engage in human trafficking or exploitation and works diligently to prevent the importation of goods tainted by slavery or human trafficking, conducting heightened human rights due diligence in higher risk geographies.
At a minimum, we require all suppliers and their facilities to meet the standards and promote the principles outlined in our Supplier Code of Conduct. 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 our Code. This includes holding their own supply chains to the same standards in these areas. Fundamental to our Code 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.
Safe & Respectful Workplaces
We are committed to prioritizing safety in all our corporate offices and Company-owned restaurants around the world, as well as supporting our Franchisees in doing the same in the restaurants they own and operate. Our Global Brand Standards help foster safe, respectful and inclusive workplaces that protect the physical and psychological safety of crew and customers.
The Standards focus on four key areas: protecting employee health and safety; preventing workplace violence; preventing harassment, discrimination and retaliation; and listening through restaurant employee feedback. All Company-owned and franchised restaurants must implement these standards and, starting in 2022, are assessed on each criterion in accordance with the applicable McDonald’s market’s business evaluation processes.
Compensation and Pay
To attract and retain talent at all levels of the business, we provide competitive compensation commensurate with an employee’s position. In 2022, we raised hourly wages for over 90% of our U.S. McDonald’s Operated restaurants, resulting in an 8% increase to the average hourly pay rate for more than 44,000 employees. We expect to reach an average hourly wage above $15 for Company-owned restaurant employees in 2023. We also prioritize equal pay for equal work through our goal to close pay gaps identified in annual equal pay analyses, further demonstrating our contribution to SDG 8.
By increasing the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills for employment (SDG 4), our Youth Opportunity program will help reduce the proportion of youth who are not employed and offer opportunities to have a decent job and promote economic growth (SDG 8). Our goal is to impact 2 million young people by 2025, in partnership with the International Youth Foundation, which has three decades of experience in youth development around the world. Since the Youth Opportunity program launched in 2018, approximately 1.7 million young people have participated in training programs and/or been hired in McDonald’s Company-owned or franchised restaurants.
Further supporting youth, we believe it’s our responsibility to help address urgent community needs through strategic investments and engagement. That’s why, in 2022, we launched a Chicago Community Impact Grants Program in partnership with The Chicago Community Trust, investing $3.5 million in grants to 40 neighborhood organizations.
The Global Context
The rise in global consumption and production associated with economic and social progress can negatively impact the natural systems on which we depend. To reverse current trends and make our consumption and production patterns more sustainable, we need to do more with less. According to the UN Environment Programme, this will require us to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation to create more efficient and more circular economies, by increasing resource efficiency and promoting sustainable lifestyles.
We are investing in and engaging with strategic partnerships to advance circularity in our communities. By offering meals that are more sustainably produced, we have the opportunity to help customers feel even better about their choice to visit McDonald’s restaurants. With our global reach, we can provide accessible waste management solutions in our restaurants and connect with communities on these issues.
The Most Relevant SDG 12 Targets to Our Business
SDG Target 12.2: By 2030, achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources
SDG Target 12.5: By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse
What McDonald’s Is Doing
Packaging and Waste Strategy
Our packaging and waste strategy focuses on reducing materials used and switching to renewable, recycled or certified sources, introducing reusable packaging solutions and scaling up recycling systems. We are a part of the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) ReSource: Plastic coalition and the Foodservice Packaging Institute’s Paper Recovery Alliance and Plastics Recovery Group – multi-brand coalitions working together to keep plastic waste out of the environment and to recycle foodservice packaging.
Partnerships for Sustainability
We co-founded the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef and are continuously working with suppliers, NGOs, academics and other experts across the sector to help inform our strategies in this space. Our Flagship Farmers Program recognizes producers who are leading the industry with pioneering sustainability practices and enables them to share such best practices. We are also driving progress toward sustainable consumption and production in other priority areas of our supply chain through targeted activities and policies that drive lasting, meaningful outcomes. Examples of these actions include:
- Forming long-term partnerships with AgMissionTM and FAI Farms to continue collaborating on regenerative practices.
- Establishing multi-stakeholder roundtable groups focused on sustainable beef in many markets around the world.
- Ensuring 100% of palm oil sourced for McDonald’s restaurants and used as an ingredient in McDonald’s products supports the production of sustainable palm oil and deforestation-free supply chains.
- Continuing to have 100% of the soy sourced for feed of chicken used in our products support deforestation-free supply chains.
- Partnering with Tyson Foods on the row crop portion of Tyson Foods’ Climate Smart Commodities Grant Project and plans to commit $10 million in funding over five years. At scale, this program aims to cover 2 million acres of crop land, some of which will be used to feed Tyson Foods chickens in the U.S., including those entering the McDonald’s U.S. supply chain through 2030. If successful, the Climate Smart Commodities Grant Project also aims to reduce 170,000 metric tons of CO2e annually by year five of the program.
To address food and packaging waste and encourage a more circular economy, many of our suppliers and Franchisees donate meals and excess ingredients. This allows us to turn used cooking oil into fuel for our delivery trucks, for example, and we are exploring more ways to further repurpose waste.
For example, in 2022:
- Approximately 97.2% of our primary fiber-based guest packaging was sourced from recycled or certified sources.
- We reduced virgin fossil fuel-based plastic in Happy Meal toys by 47.8%, a significant improvement from the 24.4% achieved in 2021.
The Global Context
Climate change impacts every country, with rising temperatures and sea levels, and more extreme weather events disrupting national economies and affecting lives. The 2015 Paris Agreement sought to strengthen the global response by keeping the rise in global temperature well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. As outlined by the UN Environment Programme, although greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions fell during the pandemic as a result of travel bans and economic slowdowns, they are rising again as economies recover. The need to address the climate emergency remains urgent.
At McDonald’s, we believe we have a responsibility to be part of the solution to this global issue. We are embracing the unique opportunity we have – as a brand of global scale – to mobilize the entire McDonald’s System to act now and be a catalyst of change across the world. Climate change has the potential to pose risks to the resilience of our food supply and to the communities where we source and operate. While taking action on climate change is challenging and requires investment, collaboration and innovation, we recognize the importance this collective action holds to ensure a brighter, better world for the future.
The Most Relevant SDG 13 Targets to Our Business
SDG Target 13.2: Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning
What McDonald’s Is Doing
Reducing Our Emissions
In 2018, we committed to reducing GHG emissions related to our restaurants and offices. Between 2015 and 2030, we aim to reduce these emissions by 36%, as well as a 31% reduction in emissions intensity (per metric ton of food and packaging) across our supply chain. These science-based targets were approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) in 2018, and we are working to achieve them by collaborating closely with industries, governments, Franchisees, suppliers, consumers and local communities.
Since our initial targets were set, we have become a member of the United Nations Race to Zero campaign. Through this, we have committed to reaching net zero emissions by 2050 across our business and supply chain, for which we will continue to develop a longer-term emissions reduction and neutralization strategy. Through the SBTi Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaign, we are actively working to evolve our interim 2030 climate targets to do our part going forward to keep global temperature rises below 1.5°C.
Decarbonizing Our Supply Chain
To adapt our value chain to climate change, and mitigate against it, we prepare for climatic events that could impact the natural resources we depend on, as well as transition risks associated with the shift to a low-carbon economy. Our targets for Climate Action consider estimated emissions from land use change – such as deforestation for farmland – which are modelled using our climate impact tracking system. Additionally, we are committed to eliminating deforestation from our global supply chain by 2030, building on our momentum and action to support deforestation-free supply chains for our highest priority commodities from our previous 2020 Responsible Sourcing goals.
We are working with suppliers, NGOs and climate experts to help address our supply chain footprint, relying on third-party certifications for our soy, palm oil, coffee and fiber. Where such certifications do not yet exist, we invest in external monitoring and verification systems.
- 99.0% of our priority commodities – beef, chicken (soy in feed), palm oil, coffee and packaging –supported deforestation-free supply chains.
- We added two large-scale U.S. Virtual Power Purchase Agreements (VPPAs) to contribute more renewable energy to the grid.
- We were part of the SBTi FLAG project consultative group, which provided expert advice and direction for companies in land-intensive sectors, including developing guidance to ensure robust, clear and practical target setting.
- We joined the Consumer Goods Forum’s (CGF) Forest Positive Coalition, a coalition to stop commodity-driven deforestation and address global climate change issues across the sector. As part of this membership, McDonald’s publicly reports on an agreed set of key performance indicators (KPIs) to maintain ongoing transparency and accountability.