Kieran Layton’s Story of DEI In the Workplace | McDonald’s

June 13, 2022

How Inclusion Efforts Have Impacted McDonald’s Kieran Layton, A Member of the LGBTQ+ Community

Meet Kieran Layton, Field People Officer for McDonald’s Long Beach, California Field Office. Kieran is a shining example of what can happen when you’re empowered to bring your authentic self to work – and he has the stories (and photos!) to prove it.

“Being able to live authentically has allowed me a confidence in the workplace that’s positively impacted my personal life and professional performance,” Kieran says. “McDonald’s really does embrace their value of inclusion, and I see that every day.”

How Sexuality Impacted Kieran Layton’s Professional Career

Kieran came out as gay during his sophomore year at New York University. One of his first jobs after graduation was working in customer experience with a utility company in Columbus, Ohio.

“It was a fairly conservative company,” Kieran says, “but I always felt very welcome there.” His leaders encouraged him to be his authentic self at work – and this enabled him to build strong relationships that advanced his career.

“I learned so much about human-centered design,” he says. “It was invaluable.”

After a few years, Kieran set his sights on moving to Chicago. He subsequently landed roles at major brands in the Windy City, but not before making sure the companies were the right fit.

“Each time I accepted a role at a new company, I did so knowing I’d be able to live as authentically as I did at the first company I worked for,” he says.

At each of these corporations, Kieran either laid the groundwork to establish or was very active in their LGBTQ+ employee resource groups. When he joined McDonald’s in 2019, he was thrilled to see that the company already had a longstanding Pride Network – and that McDonald’s not only encourages diversity, equity and inclusion, but embraces it.

“My leaders at McDonald’s have always ensured I have visibility into certain conversations, and I’ve always felt comfortable talking about my fiancé Connor, whether in meetings or at a social event on the 9th floor,” he says.

Because of this, Kieran is always doing his best to pay it forward. He says the biggest highlight of his career with McDonald’s so far was producing a panel on intersectionality and allyship for McDonald’s employees in June 2020. The session highlighted Black voices within and outside the McDonald’s System, including LGBTQ+ individuals and allies.

“After George Floyd’s murder and the global dialogue it prompted, it was incredibly important for BIPOC individuals to be given a platform,” Kieran says. “Every single person is or can be an ally in some way to somebody.”

Kieran Layton’s Experience with Inclusion While on The McDonald’s Team

There are plenty of examples of Kieran feeling supported at work, but there’s one that really stands out.

Earlier this year, Kieran's manager invited him and a few other McDonald’s colleagues to an owner-operator leadership conference in Las Vegas. Kieran mentioned he’d like to see a popular Vegas drag show while in town, and immediately his colleagues were on board.  

“We had ourselves a night out after the last day of the conference,” Kieran says. At one point during the show, Asia O’Hara -- a drag artist made famous for her strong performance on popular television show RuPaul’s Drag Race – picked Kieran out of the crowd and pulled him on stage.

“I told her that I worked for McDonald’s, and she proved herself to be a brand advocate,” Kieran says.

The best part of the night, though?

“A kid who was there with his mother came up to me afterward and told me he was a McDonald’s crew member,” Kieran says. “He loved that I took pride in working for McDonald’s - there was a light in his eyes when he introduced himself to us that I won’t forget.”

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