McDonald’s: Not Everyone is Lovin’ It
November 5, 2019 | Lizanne Foley
McDonald’s has been under pressure to beef up its anti-harassment policies and create a better work environment. In September, dozens of local officials from 31 states wrote an open letter demanding an end to harassment and employees staged walk outs. McDonald’s has launched a large scale sexual harassment program, including an anonymous hotline. Now McDonald’s C-suite Execs are dropping like fries. Recently two higher ups left. Then the CEO was terminated after admitting to a “consensual” relationship with an employee. Yesterday, the Chief People Officer resigned. It looks like the only happy thing at McDonald’s is their kids’ meal.
OK, fast food puns aside, McDonald’s has a serious problem. While the franchise is trying to address systemic harassment of employees, its CEO has a relationship with one. Never ever a good idea. McDonald’s has a policy prohibiting such relationships. Yet even without a policy, the power difference between a CEO and an employee calls the question: can that relationship actually be consensual? The actions by the ex-CEO might explain why McDonald’s has a huge harassment problem.
The biggest lesson from the #Metoo movement: culture starts at the top. If the CEO does not follow the company rules, that message resonates above all else. Regulations and training lose their power. Case in point–Harvey Weinstein behaved egregiously in a state that had the most stringent sexual harassment laws at the time, California. In McDonald’s case, all the sweeping programs in the world (which began just weeks ago!) could not succeed if the CEO flouted the rules.
As McDonald’s itself has said: The Simpler the Better. Everyone has to play by the same rules.
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