Report on the Ethics Program of McDonald’s Corporation1. Introduction1.1 Organisational BackgroundMcDonald’s is one of the world’s most well-known brands, and one of the world’s largest employers. The restaurant empire began as a modest drive-in cafe in California in 1948; in 1954, a travelling restaurant supply salesman named Ray Kroc visited the small hamburger stand and saw an opportunity. The following year Kroc bought the rights to the name from the original owners Mac and Dick McDonald, and opened the first true McDonald’s restaurant in the Chicago suburb of DesPlaines, Illinois (McDonald’s, 2012a).
International expansion began in 1967 with new restaurants in Canada and Puerto Rico; today, there are more than 32,000 McDonald’s operating in 117 countries, who provide employment for nearly two million people worldwide (McDonald’s, 2011b). 1.2 Sources of Information1.2.1 Personal Experience in the OrganisationBecause McDonald’s employs so many people – and more to the point, makes a priority of offering job opportunities to young people, the elderly, people with disabilities, and others who might otherwise encounter challenges in finding work – it seems that people who are veterans of a least a little time as a McDonald’s worker are very common.
My own experience was probably typical; I worked for a total of about two years for McDonald’s as a crew member, a job I appreciated partly because of its flexibility with regard to my school schedule. My knowledge of ethical issues in the organisation was in the context of a regular line employee; management- and career-oriented workers receive more detailed training and instruction than the orientation and information given to workers at the more casual level. 1.2.2 Other Sources of InformationUnless otherwise noted, descriptions and analyses of McDonald’s ethical performance are drawn from personal observation and experience.
A number of other sources of information, duly noted as text references and in the attached reference list, were used to develop this report. Company background information and details of McDonald’s codes of conduct and ethical guidelines were accessed through McDonald’s Corporation’s website and included links. A general code of ethics used as a standard with which to compare McDonald’s is found in the 2011 Edition of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.
In addition, several academic and business case articles were accessed to give further depth to the ethical principles and practises described by other sources. 1.3 The Ethical Standard1.3.1 DescriptionThe OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises are a set of guidelines that “.. .provide non-binding principles and standards for responsible business conduct in a global context consistent with applicable laws and internationally recognised standards. ” (OECD, 2011, 3) While Guidelines are quite detailed – the PDF form of the booklet available from the OECD website runs to 95 pages – the basic ethical standards are described in the “General Policies, ” which are a total of 17 rules that enterprises either “should” or “are encouraged” to follow (OECD, 2011, 19-20).
Pertinent provisions in the General Policies include: Prioritise sustainable development. Recognise human rights. Support local communities. Create opportunities for employment and career training. Follow sound corporate governance principles. Publish and promote company policies through proper training and information. Do not discriminate against employees making proper complaints about the company or its practises. Avoid harming public health, safety, or the environment. Avoid improper involvement in local politics, and respect local laws. Practise responsible supply chain management.