Human rights are woven into McDonald’s day-to-day business, enabling us to fulfill our commitment to respect the rights of all people and communities who serve, produce and enjoy our food.
We believe businesses like McDonald’s have a responsibility to respect human rights within their spheres of influence. We know we can be a force for good in communities and empower our partners to do the same.
We take our responsibility to respect human rights throughout our value chain seriously. Our commitment is set out in our Human Rights Policy (PDF – 91 KB), which is guided by the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), the International Bill of Human Rights and the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.
Our Human Rights Policy was developed through a highly consultative process, benchmarking against industry peers and benefiting from third-party guidance, including external human rights experts and stakeholders.
Beyond our Human Rights Policy, we’ve been working to strengthen our commitment to human rights and have introduced new policies, as well as updating old ones.
Examples of policies and guidance in place specific to populations most vulnerable to human rights violations include preventing the exploitation of migrant workers through our Responsible and Ethical Recruitment Principles; updated responsible recruitment requirements detailed in our Supplier Workplace Standards and Guidance Document (SWSGD); and safeguarding young workers’ rights with an updated and detailed remediation protocol in the SWSGD relating to child labor developed in consultation with external parties, including nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).
We are the world’s leading global foodservice retailer, with over 2 million people working within a McDonald’s franchised restaurant, and more than 150,000 people employed by McDonald’s Corporation and its majority-owned subsidiaries worldwide as of year-end 2022. Together with our Franchisees, we are committed to upholding human rights and cultivating respectful workplaces where everyone is empowered to realize their full potential.
The success of the McDonald’s System lies, in part, in our strong relationships with suppliers, all of which must meet our expectations of fundamental rights for all people. We aim to build strong, long-term relationships with suppliers and work closely to maintain the highest standards around human rights. We require suppliers to comply with our Supplier Code of Conduct and associated guidance, which include respect for human rights and following practices that protect their employees’ health and safety.
Our Global People and Global Supply Chain functions are responsible for our day-to-day human rights performance. Human rights professionals on our Sustainability & Social Impact team within our Global Impact function play a key coordinating role and manage a cross-functional Human Rights Working Group which meets quarterly, as well as on an ad hoc basis as needed.
The executive sponsors of the Human Rights Working Group are our Global Chief Impact Officer, Global Chief People Officer, Global Chief Supply Chain Officer and Global Chief Legal Officer. These executive sponsors report to the CEO on human rights risks and share relevant updates to the Board Committees.
The CEO and Senior Leadership team have oversight of human rights policies, commitments and management, as well as of Enterprise Risk Management, which may include specific human rights issues. The Board Committees have oversight of human capital management, including human rights.
Read more about our policies and standards below.
McDonald’s purpose is to feed and foster communities. Central to that purpose is respecting human rights everywhere we do business. To further evolve respect for human rights across our System, McDonald’s has developed an approach that focuses on issues relevant to our business; embeds key activities to address those issues within corporate functions and market operations; and provides flexibility to respond to emerging human rights-related trends and business priorities.
Regardless of cultural, social or economic context, we conduct our activities in a way that respects the dignity of each person. To maintain relevant policies and practices, we work to identify and understand the human rights issues that are most important to our business.
Foundational to our human rights approach is the UNGPs. The UNGPs outline that businesses should demonstrate respect for human rights through five key steps, which the McDonald’s approach is aligned with:
- Policy and Governance
- Human Rights Due Diligence
- Integrate Findings
- Track and Report
- Provide Effective Remedy
McDonald’s approach to human rights has been developed and informed by human rights assessments, ongoing analysis of the emerging business and regulatory landscape on human rights, and extensive consultation with subject-matter experts (SMEs) across the business.
As we continue to evolve our approach to human rights, we’re committed to engaging with employees and stakeholders to inform our own policy and influence change elsewhere.
In addition to our ongoing management of human rights risks, McDonald’s has identified priority areas for us to further uplift our people through accelerating cultures of inclusion and belonging and supporting worker well-being.
McDonald’s manages our approach to human rights in line with the UNGPs’ steps.
- Policy and Governance: McDonald’s makes public its commitments to human rights through its Human Rights Policy, Supplier Code of Conduct, Standards of Business Conduct and other relevant guidance. Issue-specific principles and standards are also developed to ensure System-wide understanding of how best to implement certain policies or standards. Prime examples of this include McDonald’s Responsible and Ethical Recruitment Principles and the Global Brand Standards. Oversight of implementation of our human rights commitments is led by the Board of Directors and our Senior Executive Leadership from the Global Impact, Global Legal, Global People and Global Supply Chain functions. Execution is taken forward by subject-matter experts (SMEs) across the business and our cross-functional Human Rights Working Group and is coordinated by the Human Rights team within Global Impact.
- Human Rights Due Diligence: To assess and prioritize human rights impacts we conduct human rights assessments, monitor media and third-party reporting, and ongoing internal and external stakeholder engagement. Internal routine accountability mechanisms are also critical for our ongoing due diligence across operations and supply chain. Our Running Great Restaurants and Supplier Workplace Accountability (SWA) initiatives are prime examples of this and are complemented by ad hoc deep dives and heightened human rights due diligence on an as-needed basis.
- Integrate Findings: Continual improvement is core to McDonald’s business ethic, and we extend this to business partners within our System. Findings from human rights assessments are relayed to leadership and recommendations are shared with function-specific SMEs to inform their ongoing work and future planning. Findings from targeted accountability mechanisms are used to improve specific compliance and performance findings and inform longer-term strategies. When appropriate, new work is initiated to take forward recommendations.
- Track and Report: Internally, McDonald’s routinely reports on human rights issues to its Board of Directors and Executive Sponsors of human rights and related issues, as well as through its Human Rights Working Group. Monitoring and reporting of performance in line with our values by corporate, restaurants, suppliers and other business partners is ongoing throughout the year at varying cadence. Human Rights is also embedded in our Enterprise Risk Management framework, enabling human rights related issues to be raised to the most senior levels of the organization as needed. Human rights related issues are reported on in the annual Purpose and Impact Report and the Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Report. Many McDonald’s markets publish their own annual Sustainability reports and other reports in response to human rights related legislations such as McDonald’s Australia and McDonald’s UK in publishing annual Modern Slavery Statements.
- Provide Effective Remedy: Ensuring people can report any alleged violations of their rights, in safety and without fear of retribution, is an integral part of supporting and championing human rights. McDonald’s primary grievance mechanism is an anonymous global channel, the Business Integrity Line – staffed by a live operator from an independent company, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. All reports are handled confidentially, subject to applicable legal and regulatory requirements, and McDonald’s does not tolerate retaliation against those who raise concerns or make reports in good faith. This channel is complemented by others across our markets. The SWA program also has clear guidance around identifying and providing remedy for violations of human rights ranging from correcting occupational, health and safety violations to repayment of worker-borne recruitment fees. Read more about McDonald’s work to provide effective remedy under our focus areas below.
Our commitment to respect people throughout our value chain and their rights is defined in several documents. These standards, principles and policies work together to reinforce a culture of integrity and respect and are foundational to how we feed and foster communities around the globe.
Applicable throughout McDonald’s Corporation and Its Majority-Owned Subsidiaries
- Human Rights Policy (PDF – 91 KB)
- Standards of Business Conduct
- Global Statement of Principles Against Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation (PDF – 272 KB)
- Global Statement of Principles on Workplace Violence Prevention (PDF – 144 KB)
Applicable throughout the Company, Franchisees and International Developmental Licensees (IDLs)
Applicable throughout McDonald’s-Brand Restaurants
Applicable throughout Our Supply Chain
Human Rights Impact Assessment Along Our Supply Chain
To evolve our human rights policies and programs, we have developed a thorough strategy for identifying potential human rights issues in our supply chain, drawing on data from a wide range of sources. This includes a supply chain human rights assessment, third-party audits of suppliers, media monitoring and relevant stakeholder engagement.
To uphold our standards for respecting human rights, we look to better understand the human rights risk associated with the various commodities we source. In 2018, we engaged an external provider to conduct a Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) at the farm level. The assessment enabled us to identify that, of all the commodities we source, palm oil, tea, coffee and timber present the greatest risk of exposure to human rights concerns, with occupational health and safety, migrant workers and decent working time identified as the most salient risks.
In addition to the farm-level commodity assessment, the HRIA also included a stakeholder consultation with key nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to understand how industry experts view the human rights risks associated with the production of these commodities, as well as their observations on how the risks can best be mitigated.
The HRIA findings, and corresponding recommendations, helped us strengthen human rights management frameworks to better identify, assess, prevent, mitigate and remediate salient human rights issues. For example, as we update our sustainable sourcing strategies and policies for specific commodities, we use these recommendations to help inform our human rights due diligence requirements for suppliers.
We also use HRIA findings to raise awareness of human rights risks among supply chain staff who procure products for the McDonald’s System and have taken steps to strengthen risk management procedures and improvement plans.
By identifying the most important 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.
McDonald’s is committed to engaging with relevant internal and external stakeholders to continue to advance our approach to human rights.
Collaborating With Stakeholders Globally
To help drive progress, we engage with the Business for Social Responsibility’s Human Rights Working Group (HRWG). The HRWG supports the implementation of the UNGPs in a shared-learning forum of more than 55 companies.
We’re an engaged and active organization of the Centre for Sport and Human Rights. The Centre is a human rights organization, with a mission to advance a world of responsible sport that fully respects and promotes human rights by generating awareness around key human rights issues, building capacity and delivering value-added impact. In this multi-stakeholder forum, sponsors of sporting events are recognized as critical stakeholders in the sports ecosystem. Our participation helps us understand and implement measures to do our part in preventing human rights violations linked to sport and major events.
To ensure our supplier program addresses emerging human rights issues and risks, we participate in initiatives such as AIM-Progress, a business initiative focused on responsible sourcing. By partnering with AIM-Progress, McDonald’s is helping to support broader adoption of the UNGPs by suppliers across the globe.
McDonald’s also participates in country and/or commodity-specific initiatives. Examples include:
- The Palm Oil Collaboration Group (POCG), which brings together companies from every stage of the palm oil supply chain to accelerate effective implementation of NDPE (no deforestation, no expansion on peat and no exploitation) commitments.
- The Ethical Charter on Responsible Labor Practices, in support of greater accountability and transparency in the fresh produce industry.
- Veritė’s Cooperation On Fair, Free, Equitable Employment (COFFEE) Project, which aims to reduce risk for workers in the coffee sector and help supply chain actors detect, prevent and address labor violations in the coffee supply chain. As part of this, Veritė also created a Socially Sustainable Sourcing Toolkit (S3T), which includes training modules related to forced labor, child labor, recruitment, gender issues and guidance on the identification, remediation and prevention of labor risk. McDonald’s shares this resource as part of our Global Sustainable Sourcing Guide for our suppliers to understand McDonald’s sustainable sourcing policies and supplier expectations on social and environmental issues.
- Veritė’s new Farm Labor Due Diligence initiative, launching in 2023, will provide open-source materials to support businesses that source high-risk agricultural commodities to help identify and improve human rights due diligence in their supply chains.
Supporting Worker Initiatives
Partnerships are an important way for us to learn from others and help create change in the broader community, and we’ve been building on our efforts to stimulate broader engagement of human rights advancements in 2023.
McDonald’s became a member of the Leadership Group for Responsible Recruitment, a collaborative effort to drive positive change in the way that migrant workers are recruited. It’s an opportunity for us to learn and collaborate, while inspiring broader, systemic change for the recruitment and employment of migrant workers.
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, by conducting heightened human rights due diligence in higher-risk geographies. The Company does not use any form of slave, forced, bonded, indentured or involuntary prison labor.
For Company Employees and Franchisees
McDonald’s is committed to preventing forced labor and upholding responsible and ethical recruitment standards.
We maintain Responsible and Ethical Recruitment Principles which outline our commitment to working toward five global recruitment standards:
- Workers do not pay recruitment fees, whether to a private labor broker/employment agent or to the employer itself.
- Any contracts or offer letters are provided in a language fully understandable by the workers at the point of recruitment and prior to deployment.
- McDonald’s and our Franchisees/IDLs do not keep or withhold any government-issued identification, monetary deposits, bonding or other collateral as a condition of employment.
- If workers reside in employer-provided housing, there must be a plan for the management of safe housing and accommodation, including that it is structurally sound and in good repair.
- McDonald's and our Franchisees/IDLs apply these standards to themselves and to third parties recruiting and/or managing labor on their behalf. We make our Responsible and Ethical Recruitment Principles available to other third-party contractors to educate them on our responsible recruitment standards, and encourage them to develop similar policies and procedures for their own business operations.
These standards apply to migrant labor recruiting practices across McDonald’s and its majority-owned subsidiaries, Franchisees and IDLs.
Guided by the UNGPs, McDonald’s undertakes risk-based due diligence to identify, address and mitigate adverse impacts. Wherever practical, McDonald’s hires workers directly. Where this is not possible, McDonald’s will select agencies that operate responsibly and abide by our Responsible and Ethical Recruitment Principles. Furthermore, McDonald’s will adopt practices and procedures to address hidden recruitment fees so that migrant workers don’t pay such fees and are hired in accordance with our principles.
McDonald’s provides Franchisees and IDLs with optional tools and resources to support their own good practices.
McDonald’s supports the goals of the U.K. and Australian Modern Slavery Acts. McDonald’s UK published its first U.K. Modern Slavery Act statement in 2017.
Fundamental to our Supplier Code of Conduct is an expectation of ethical employment practices by our suppliers and their supply chains, 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 fear of retaliation.
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 the local language and signed by the worker.
- Suppliers do not retain workers’ government-issued identification, passports or work permits.
McDonald’s remains committed to advancing the principles of inclusion and diversity in all that we do. For us, anyone experiencing discrimination while working, dining or interacting with McDonald’s in any way is unacceptable. We define discrimination as treating someone or a group of people differently because of certain characteristics including the characteristics spanning sex, ethnicity, identity, military, veteran, citizenship or any other protected group status.1
Through our Global Statement of Principles Against Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation, we outline our commitment to non-discrimination. It applies to all McDonald’s employees – whether on McDonald’s property, at Company-sponsored events, or off-site with other employees, contractors or vendors. In addition, we do not tolerate harassment of employees by non-employees, and do not tolerate harassment of non-employees by employees. Furthermore, we have fostered a speak-up culture, where we encourage and enable members of our community to, freely and without consequence to themselves, report instances of discrimination and other violations of our values.
For Company Employees and Franchisees
Ensuring people can report any alleged violations of their rights, in safety and without fear of retribution, is an integral part of supporting and championing human rights.
This includes encouraging honest communication with managers and human resource representatives, as well as providing anonymous channels for Company employees to report concerns. Anyone can raise concerns via an anonymous global channel, the Business Integrity Line – staffed by a live operator from an independent company – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
When a complaint is made, our Global Compliance team will conduct an initial assessment of the report to determine whether the allegations raised warrant escalation or further review. If the report contains insufficient information to enable Global Compliance to properly assess the allegations, Global Compliance will request additional information from the reporter. How investigations are conducted depends on several factors. Global Compliance may refer reports to, or seek assistance from, other departments, and may request additional information from the reporter if needed – every effort will be made to maximize efficiency and expediate investigations. Where the investigation has concluded that a violation has occurred, appropriate corrective or disciplinary action will be taken. Anyone who engages in retaliatory action against any individual, including third parties, who report a concern or cooperate with an investigation will face discipline, which may include separation from the Company.
McDonald’s likewise has taken steps to prevent retaliation in its supply chain through contractual safeguards with its suppliers, including adherence to its Supplier Code of Conduct which prohibits retaliation.
The Business Integrity Line is complemented by additional grievance channels in all markets. The Business Integrity Line, like many other channels, is also publicly available, meaning it can be, and has been, used by employees of business partners (such as suppliers or Franchisees) as well as members of the community. Regardless of who uses the Business Integrity Line to raise a complaint, all complaints received are reviewed and complainants are protected from discrimination or retaliation by our Standards of Business Conduct and Global Statement of Principles Against Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation.
We take all concerns that are raised seriously. We will not impede state-based grievance processes via our employee system, and we do not require Company employees to waive their right to use such external mechanisms. We do not tolerate retaliation of any kind against anyone who reports an issue and do not tolerate unlawful threats, intimidation and physical or legal attacks against human rights defenders. We provide access to remediation and encourage our business partners to do the same and recognize that this commitment should not obstruct access to other remedies.
Each of our International Operated Markets (IOMs) has human resources staff that are responsible for handling concerns in an appropriate and timely manner. This process may include investigating complaints, interviewing witnesses, reviewing documentation and determining next steps.
For example, in the U.S. market, several grievance mechanisms are available. Company-owned restaurant employees can report concerns or complaints to their restaurant’s General Manager or Operations Consultant, HR Consultant or HR Manager, or the Business Integrity Line. We also provide Company-owned restaurant employees with third-party Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) such as the McResource Line and the Employee Resource Connection. These EAPs offer services such as counseling, referrals and other support, and are free and confidential.
Additionally, in the U.S. market, the Company offers Franchisees a third-party managed hotline. This hotline supplements what Franchisees already offer their employees and provides callers with another anonymous way to file a concern with their employer.
Guided by the UNGPs, our SWSGD provides a step-by-step best practice process to help suppliers establish an effective grievance mechanism. We require suppliers to establish internal grievance mechanisms and provide their workers with their own robust internal procedures to raise issues. Our Business Integrity Line, and an email to reach the SWA Global Management team, is open to suppliers and their employees, if they suspect or become aware of any alleged breaches to our Code. Our Code explicitly states that the supplier’s reporting program must protect the worker’s confidentiality and must prohibit retaliation in response to reporting issues.
Occupational Health and Safety
We believe we have a responsibility to protect the health and safety of employees and anyone who enters a McDonald’s-brand restaurant and so we are committed to prioritizing safety in all our 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. To this end we are deploying health and safety requirements and a market-level assessment process to evaluate these requirements.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
We believe diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) has a clear basis in human rights and so respect it accordingly. We take steps to embed DEI into all aspects of our operations because we believe that improving ourselves and society more broadly are mutually reinforcing goals. In this context, we recognize the critical importance of transparency around pay practices, and the wider impact this can have on equity within our global workforce.
Education and Employment Creation
Creating a world class employee experience, with ample learning and development opportunities, is crucial for our business as it directly influences the customer experience.
As part of Accelerating the Arches, and our ambition to continually improve and build on our progress, we’re adding to our employee talent initiatives and benefits. We also help reduce barriers to employment for young people through our Youth Opportunity program, which offers readiness training and workplace development programs.
To help Company employees understand human rights, training on our Human Rights Policy is available in 15 languages. In 2021, the training was made available to Company employees across all our owned markets. The training includes a section on forced labor that identifies particularly vulnerable groups.
We continually provide education and capacity development resources for our suppliers through our SWA program, which develops training materials tailored to gaps identified through routine audits and trend monitoring. These materials are tailored to meet needs unique to regions and commodities and are translated into the most appropriate languages.
Our internal Human Rights Working Group is a cross-functional team comprised of team members from Supply Chain, Compliance, Franchising, Legal, Marketing, Operations, People, Public Policy, Safety, Security, Sustainability & Social Impact, with responsibility for informing, implementing and championing our approach to human rights.
Our Human Rights Policy
Our Human Rights Policy is informed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and guided by internationally recognized standards, including the UNGPs, the International Bill of Human Rights and the ILO’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.
It includes our steps for monitoring and reporting on human rights commitments and efforts, communicating our policy to stakeholders, using international standards to guide our approach, adopting grievance mechanisms, providing remedies to correct negative impacts and applying due diligence through risk assessments. All these expectations are approved at the most senior level of the business.
Our Standards of Business Conduct
Our commitment to respect human rights is set out in our Standards of Business Conduct, which applies to employees of McDonald’s Corporation and our majority-owned subsidiaries. Company employees are trained regularly on the standards and required to annually certify their understanding of and commitment to upholding them.
Learn more about our Standards of Business Conduct through our website.
Our Global Statement of Principles Against Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation
Our Global Statement of Principles Against Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation outlines the policy criteria required of all Company-owned restaurants. It is also provided for optional use by Franchisees and IDLs based on their respective locations and circumstances.
It sets out expectations on workplace conduct, manager responsibilities, employee resources and investigation processes, and applies to all Company-owned restaurant employees and Corporate Staff. These principles protect Company employees against inappropriate actions that are unwanted, or which create an intimidating, offensive, unsafe, or hostile work environment.
Each of McDonald’s majority-owned subsidiaries implements specific local policies addressing discrimination, harassment and retaliation in their market, making sure that they are consistent with our principles, while adhering to applicable local laws. This includes setting out how to address and prevent discrimination, harassment and retaliation, while providing Company employees with clear and detailed information on how they can report concerns.
An internal cross-functional working group developed the principles in partnership with third-party counsel with expertise in harassment prevention. The Statement of Principles was also informed by the ILO C. 190 on violence and harassment at work, peer benchmarking, consultations with People leaders from a diverse set of global markets and stakeholder engagement.
Maintaining Respectful and Inclusive Contractual Practices
McDonald’s limits our use of arbitration, noncompetition and nondisclosure covenants as follows:
- We do not and will not, as a condition of employment, require mandatory arbitration of harassment and discrimination claims.
- While leadership within the officer level sign noncompetition covenants, we do not require, as a condition of employment, any employee below the officer level to sign post-termination, noncompetition covenants, except in very limited situations, as authorized by the Chief Legal Officer. These would include an employee who has unique skills, knowledge or access to intellectual property, trade secrets or highly confidential customer information that would provide a competitor with an advantage (e.g., complex knowledge regarding menu innovation or critical technology applications or systems).
- In the event that McDonald’s seeks a nondisclosure covenant in connection with the settlement of a harassment or discrimination claim brought by an employee or former employee against an officer of McDonald’s Corporation, we will provide notice of such arrangement to the Board of Directors to ensure the Board has appropriate oversight.
Our Global Statement of Principles on Workplace Violence Prevention
Through our Global Statement of Principles on Workplace Violence Prevention, McDonald’s strives to create a work environment that is safe and free of physical threats and violence of any type. It applies to employees of all Company-owned restaurants and is provided for optional use by Franchisees and IDLs based on their respective locations and circumstances.
It sets out expectations on workplace conduct, manager responsibilities, employee resources and investigation processes, and applies to all Company-owned restaurant and Corporate Staff. We do not tolerate any abusive, threatening or violent behavior in our restaurants or offices. Recourse includes internal reporting, as well as communicating with the proper legal authorities.
As noted in the following description of our Global Brand Standards, all restaurants, in all markets, are expected to have a workplace violence prevention policy. Majority-owned markets are additionally required to incorporate the principles found in the Global Statement of Principles on Workplace Violence Prevention into their workplace violence prevention policy.
Our Responsible and Ethical Recruitment Principles
McDonald’s is committed to preventing forced labor and upholding responsible and ethical recruitment standards. Our Responsible and Ethical Recruitment Principles define McDonald’s approach on this issue, including how we will work toward five global standards. These five standards will apply to migrant labor recruiting practices and will be required across our corporate operations, Franchisees and IDLs.
To inform the development of our commitment to responsible recruitment, McDonald’s looked to industry best practices and international standards, including the Employer Pays Principle and ILO’s general principles and operational guidelines for fair recruitment. We employed a highly consultative process with leaders and SMEs across the business and diverse markets, ensuring the resulting Principles would be relevant to the way we do business, reflective of our people values as well as generating internal awareness and commitment. Throughout this development process, we benefited from review and recommendations from external subject-matter experts, including members of the Leadership Group for Responsible Recruitment.
Our Global Brand Standards
Our Global Brand Standards help foster safe, respectful and inclusive workplaces that protect the physical and psychological safety of all 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. We will adapt our approach as relevant as we continue to gather feedback from Franchisees and restaurant employees over time.
We continue to work in partnership with independent and third-party experts in the U.S. and globally to provide expertise, training and tools that support the implementation of the standards for Franchisees.
For more information on how we and our Franchisees put our Global Brand Standards into practice, please see our Safe & Respectful Workplaces page.
About Our Supplier Code of Conduct
McDonald’s has a complex global supply chain with thousands of direct suppliers employing thousands of people in over 100 countries. We believe a supply chain of this scale gives us an important responsibility to do business with suppliers that respect the fundamental rights of their employees and partners.
The McDonald’s Supplier Code of Conduct (PDF – 1.4 KB) applies to all suppliers in McDonald’s supply chain. At a minimum, we require all suppliers and their facilities to meet the standards and promote the principles outlined in our Code. All workers on site at supplier facility locations fall in scope of our standards and are in scope of Supplier Workplace Accountability (SWA) third-party audits. McDonald’s also expects suppliers to hold their own supply chains (including subcontractors, agencies, etc.) to the same standards as outlined in our Code, and to create internal mechanisms and programs for handling reports of workplace grievances, including anonymous reporting.
McDonald’s Supplier Code of Conduct includes standards in human rights, workplace environment, business integrity and environmental management. For example, our Code contains standards that address:
- Maximum working hours
- Underage labor
- Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining
- Corporal punishment/disciplinary practices
- Safe working conditions
- Forced labor
Additionally, our SWSGD is shared with all suppliers and provides detailed guidance on each aspect of the Code and how suppliers and their supply chains can meet our expectations.
The success of the McDonald’s System lies in our trusted relationships with suppliers. We provide guidance to help them do so, but also expect suppliers to implement their own management systems in these areas. In 2023, McDonald’s is working with an external business and human rights agency to update our Supplier Code of Conduct. This work includes a gap analysis and benchmarking review, and engagement with internal teams across Human Rights, Legal and Supply Chain functions and external engagement from NGO and industry advisors.
Supplier Workplace Accountability Program: Supporting Compliance and Remediation with our Code
McDonald’s has a comprehensive Supplier Workplace Accountability (SWA) program to support compliance with standards and expectations outlined in our Suppler Code of Conduct. The program aims to help suppliers understand our expectations and verify compliance.
When onboarding prospective suppliers, they must complete a verification process to show they meet our expectations. This includes completion of a rigorous annual self-assessment questionnaire to appraise their current systems and practices – producing a report indicating areas for improvement.
Since launching the SWA program, McDonald’s has engaged with thousands of suppliers and facilities on respecting human rights and mitigating risk. We are proud that our suppliers take their commitments seriously and, in some cases, have their own equally robust compliance and reporting programs that have been evaluated and approved as equivalent to McDonald’s SWA program.
The program also provides suppliers and the McDonald’s Global Supply Chain team with optional training to better understand human rights issues and SWA program requirements. Built on a model of continuous learning, our online training platform allows suppliers to access tools and resources that provide guidance on human rights issues.
Our global training modules focus on every aspect of human rights applicable, and include Health and Safety, Involuntary Labor (including recruitment and fee reimbursement) and Underage Labor. We also supplement our training modules with additional supplier trainings that we co-sponsor as AIM-Progress members to build capacity of suppliers across our industry. We are continuously updating our training. For example, in 2021, McDonald’s updated the Supplier Workplace Standards and Guidance Document in the areas of health and safety, responsible recruitment and underage labor, and hosted training sessions on the updated standards. These reached thousands of suppliers and McDonald’s staff, and featured interviews with external experts.
The SWA Program engages several social compliance auditing firms around the world who conduct on-site audits of facilities, worker housing and cafeterias. They also interview workers, and review facility records and business practices. These audits investigate such concerns as recruitment fees, discrimination, wrongful confiscation of personal documents, and other human rights considerations that McDonald’s seeks to eliminate from its supply chain. Further, they scrutinize supplier compliance with each aspect of the Code, such as verifying that all workers are of legal age to work. If an underage person is hired, for example, suppliers must support remedial solutions that serves the child’s best interests.
Instances of noncompliance are shared with individual suppliers, who must then produce and implement a corrective and preventive action plan. This must outline specific time frames within which corrective action will be taken, root causes analyzed, and policies and procedures updated. In instances of significant noncompliance, suppliers are subject to a follow-up audit.
McDonald’s SWA program is designed to support suppliers in meeting our standards. We prioritize continuous improvement, capacity building and corrective actions. However, in certain circumstances, such as instances of significant noncompliance with the Code, McDonald’s may remove a supplier from the supply chain.
According to our 2022 SWA Global Compliance report, we have more than 5,000 facilities globally in the SWA program. Based on SWA program results and audit findings, we have found new ways to engage with suppliers. For example, we launched an initiative to raise awareness and reduce instances of blocked or locked emergency exits designed to make premises throughout the supply chain safer for everyone. Core to this effort is our global communication to all suppliers via direct email, and supplier newsletter, which highlights key compliance opportunities, such as emergency preparedness management systems that ensure no locked/blocked exits in case of an emergency. To make sure suppliers always have access to this important information, we launched a video describing how to shift from reactive to proactive when managing workplace risks such as blocked emergency exits.
As part of our continued effort to prevent forced labor worldwide, we updated our SWSGD standards to address forced labor risks by strengthening our requirements around reimbursement of recruitment fees. This will help us create lasting industry change, for the benefit of all. Since 2021, our SWA Global team has been engaging with markets, as needed, to develop compliance roadmaps and ensure there is full compliance of reimbursement requirements.
The SWA program is complemented by additional mechanisms to enable partnerships and collaboration on a risk-based approach toward high-risk sourcing regions or commodities. This includes sourcing our largest food and packaging volumes through internationally recognized third-party certification schemes that respect human rights and communities, alongside environmental standards in their certification process. We have strict sustainable sourcing policies in place that specify requirements to source via established schemes, such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), Rainforest Alliance, Fairtrade International, Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFCTM). To learn more about the certifications used for our individual high priority commodities, please see our Responsible Sourcing page.
McDonald’s was proud to support Veritė with the Cooperation On Fair, Free, Equitable Employment (COFFEE) Project, which seeks to reduce the risks faced by workers in the coffee industry, and is helping supply chain sectors detect, prevent and address labor violations in the coffee supply chain. As part of this project, we worked with Veritė to create open-source material and a Socially Sustainable Sourcing Toolkit (S3T).
McDonald’s also sits on the Advisory Council for the Sustainable Coffee Challenge (SCC): a collaborative approach toward more environmentally and socially responsible coffee production and sourcing. Companies, governments, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and research institutions are working together to increase transparency, and are aligned behind a common vision for sustainability. Initiatives like this help us collaborate to accelerate progress around key issues, which include climate, forests, labor conditions and gender.
To further support our work in palm oil, McDonald’s has invested in Sustain-Kutim, a sustainable landscape initiative in Kutai Timur, Indonesia. This initiative takes a holistic approach to reaching NDPE commitments supporting both district government and local communities to monitor and manage community forests, improve agricultural practices and support livelihoods.
McDonald’s is a proud member and supporter of the Palm Oil Collaboration Group (POCG), which brings together companies from every stage of the palm oil supply chain to accelerate effective implementation of NDPE commitments. McDonald’s is committed to working together with stakeholders and supply chain actors to directly support development and improvement of sustainable palm oil production. We recently engaged in a series of projects to improve transparency and sustainability outcomes for our palm oil supply chain, including improvement in both NDPE IRF Deforestation and Peat profiles, as well as Land and Labor profiles. This work includes engaging with smallholders to improve livelihoods and boost sustainability.
As part of our commitment to improve farming, McDonald’s is a member of Veritė’s new Farm Labor Due Diligence Initiative Advisory Council. Launching in 2023, this initiative will provide open-source materials to support businesses that source high-risk agricultural commodities, helping identify and improve human rights due diligence in their supply chains.
McDonald’s endorses the Ethical Charter on Responsible Labor Practices to support greater accountability and transparency in the produce industry. Since the launch of the Ethical Charter, McDonald’s has joined a small group of retailers to help shape the Ethical Charter Implementation Program. Across 2019–2021, McDonald’s engaged with select produce suppliers during a pilot program to test the use of a self-assessment questionnaire and supporting resources to help growers identify and improve the management systems they need to support robust labor practices. The ambition of the Ethical Charter Implementation group is to offer growers and suppliers the necessary tools and resources to strengthen labor practices and field-level application of the Charter principles.
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