McDonald’s is Better Together: Gender Balance & Diversity

McDonald’s is Better Together: Gender Balance & Diversity

 March 26, 2019

On International Women’s Day, McDonald’s launched a global strategy, Better Together: Gender Balance & Diversity, in line with theme of International Women's Day theme, #BalanceForBetter which recognizes that balance is not just a women’s issue, but a business issue. The strategy aims to improve women’s representation and gender equality in career advancement.

"We’re committed to creating a workplace where everyone feels supported and empowered. Proud to celebrate International Women's Day with the launch of our new Gender Balance & Diversity strategy," tweeted Steve Easterbrook, CEO of McDonald's Corporation.

Empowering women to realize their full potential

“In 2018, we flipped our hallmark Golden Arches to acknowledge and honor the extraordinary accomplishments of women everywhere and especially in our restaurants. This iconic moment was a catalyst for McDonald’s to closely examine what it means to not just say thank you, but to create a business environment where the full diversity of women feel recognized, represented and can advance in their careers, and in the growth of their businesses, without fear of bias. On International Women’s Day (2019), McDonald’s is proud to launch a global strategy, BETTER TOGETHER: Gender Balance & Diversity, underscoring this year’s International Women’s Day theme, #BalanceForBetter which recognizes that balance is not just a women’s issue, but a business issue,” said Wendy Lewis, Global Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President of Global Community Engagement.

McDonald’s closely considers what it means to create a business environment where the full diversity of women feel recognized, represented and can thrive in their careers, and in the growth of their businesses, without fear of bias.

"I believe that we are Better Together – that the strength and diversity of our talent will enable us to build a better, stronger McDonald’s," says Wendy Lewis, Vice President and Global Chief Diversity Office of McDonald's.

"We are committed to creating a workplace where everyone is equally supported and empowered to realize their full potential, and with this initiative, we are pledging to accelerate McDonald’s progress toward gender balance and diversity."

By 2023, the company aims to improve the representation of women at all levels of McDonald’s, achieve gender equality in career advancement, and champion the impact of women on the business. In addition, McDonald’s has signed the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles to further mark the company’s commitment to progress. 

“Gender balance and diversity makes McDonald’s stronger,” said McDonald’s Chief People Officer, David Fairhurst. “Together with our franchisees, McDonald’s provides jobs for almost 2 million people across the world and is one of the world’s largest employers of women. We’re committed to inspiring workplaces where everyone – from crew to c-suite – is equally supported and empowered to realize their full potential. But we also want to drive progress on a global scale by encouraging franchisees, suppliers and other partners to deliver initiatives that drive gender balance and improve diversity, with the goal of reaching millions of women worldwide. Our new strategy will help deliver this commitment and is designed to ensure that we’re clearly defining and hitting our targets, day-in and day-out.”

Establishing four pillars to drive equality 

To help achieve their aim, McDonald's has established four central pillars that drive the actions it will take:

  • Representation: Aim for the representation of women at every level in McDonald's to be equal to – or better than – the representation of women in the external workforce.
  • Rising: Improve equality in career advancement for men and women.
  • Recognition: Celebrate the voices and impact of women in the business and report on progress globally.
  • Reach: Achieve progress on an international level by encouraging franchisees and suppliers to deliver strategies that drive gender balance and improve diversity, with the aim of reaching millions of women worldwide.

These four pillars underpin key milestones and the company has a range of progressive activities that promote gender equality. Some of the milestones include gender neutral job-descriptions in English speaking countries for office and restaurant roles, increasing diverse candidate slates and interview panels, and investing in tools that use artificial intelligence to recognize and lessen the severity of unconscious bias from the selection process. 

Creating a gender balance in the workplace

McDonald’s is constantly making progress in the name of gender equality and diversity - and the numbers prove it. The company provides jobs for almost 2 million people across the world and is one of the largest employers of women. Currently, 30% of Officer roles globally are held by women, 41% of staff positions at Director level and above are held by women globally, and in the U.S., six out of ten restaurant managers are women. In 2018, 50% of office staff promotions went to women, and in four of McDonald's five largest company-owned markets more than half of those promoted were women. 

"Still there are a range of opportunities to increase promotion rates of women where they are below 50%. That’s why, we will review our high-potential talent pools to promote gender balance and accelerate their careers through executive mentoring and sponsorship. We will also advance education and development programs to support women to progress," says Wendy.  "I believe we are moving in the right direction," she adds.

Delivering important initiatives to support women 

McDonald’s will advance education and development programs to support women to progress. As part of this, McDonald’s is piloting a new “Women in Tech” initiative through its signature education and tuition assistance program, Archways to Opportunity, to enable women from company-owned restaurants and participating franchisee restaurants to learn skills in areas such as data science, cyber security, artificial intelligence and more. The goal of this initiative is to support broader representation of women in technology fields and support employees on their path to success – at McDonald’s and beyond. The pilot will start in the U.S. this spring with the goal of rolling it out to more countries in the future. McDonald’s will work with Microsoft to provide the technical skills curriculum and Colorado Technical University to deliver access to the learning. This initiative will offer US participants college credits, a credential upon completion and help them build a foundation for lifelong learning that’s necessary to compete in this 21st century economy.

"I’m proud of the steps we've taken at McDonald’s to achieve gender balance, but also fully aware of the gaps that still exist and that the journey to progress is not easy. I pledge to be transparent as we move forward: We will share best practices where we are discovering successes, but also be honest about the challenges we face," adds Wendy.

Creating a safe and respectful working environment

McDonald's also creates a safe work environment that fosters respect, fairness and dignity and is free of harassment, discrimination or fear of retaliation. McDonald's assesses and advances particular policies and practices to make sure they are meeting the current needs of its employees. 

For example, McDonald's published its global Human Rights Policy which aimed to strengthen McDonald's approach and give greater alignment and clarity across the business. McDonald’s also recently enhanced its discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation policy and training for U.S. staff and restaurant employees to give a more employee-centered approach. This policy was based on feedback from restaurant and staff employees, non-governmental organizations and other experts. The feedback helped McDonald's make the language of its policy even clearer and more transparent. 

McDonald's is also implementing new, obligatory and interactive training for company-owned restaurant General Managers and staff employees on harassment and discrimination in the workplace. 

McDonald's also promotes the idea that “Diversity is inclusion” to ensure that everyone feels their culture, identity and experiences are valued and respected.

"Ultimately, I am confident that this strategy will help accelerate McDonald’s progress and further leverage our scale for good," says Wendy. "By inspiring employees, franchisees, suppliers and beyond to push for advancement of women throughout our value chain, we can truly become better together and champion women not only today, but every day."

Raising awareness of unconscious bias

To mark the launch with a statement of support for workplace inclusion, McDonald’s CEO, Steve Easterbrook and other senior leaders across the business took to LinkedIn - the world’s largest job site. By switching their profile pictures for the McDonald’s arches turned upside down, the leaders aim to raise awareness of unconscious bias and the importance of mitigating it. Having reached over 10,000 employees with bias awareness training, McDonald’s is committed to its continued global roll out, and integrating the training into existing education platforms, talent management processes, leadership development, and training for talent agency partners.

In the US, McDonald’s is proud to have been included in the YWCA and Impact Shares ETF, WOMN, as well as having been recognized by both Catalyst and Human Rights Campaign as a company that is championing equality in the workplace.

Join a company that is truly creating a #BalanceforBetter

McDonald’s is known for its diversity and inclusion efforts. There are many opportunities at this global company committed to making a difference. Search and apply for opportunities with this prime employer today.


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Disclosure: Where Women Work researches and publishes insightful evidence about how its paid member organizations support women's equality.

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