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Ten Points About McDonald’s and Sustainability

March 20, 2009

Ten Points About McDonald’s and Sustainability  

On March 20, 2009, Jack Daly, senior vice president of corporate relations and chief communications officer of McDonald’s Corp., presented “Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility: The McDonald’s Story,” which contained the following excerpts: 

  • Sustainability and corporate responsibility for us are merging into the same meaning. Sustainability originally referred to environmental and supply chain concerns, but it is evolving to include those actions and values that enable us to operate in a responsible and profitable manner over the long haul. Now they are flip sides of the same coin.
  • When you look behind the headlines of today’s economic meltdown, trust – or actually the lack thereof – is the recurrent theme. If profit was the prime mover of the time period we’ve been exiting, trust will be the No. 1 goal for the time period we are moving into. Our vision is to be the world’s most trusted restaurant organization.
  • One conclusion of the 2009 Edelman Trust Barometer report is that companies that are seen as responsible are significantly more likely to be supported in their efforts to sell goods and services, change local laws and attract investment. If consumers trust you, everything becomes easier.
  • Since its inception, McDonald’s built an enormous amount of trust and goodwill based on our products, service and community involvement. But in the 1990s, with the advent of the Internet, there was increased concern over globalization, the environment, nutrition and employment practices. Non-governmental organizations such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and Greenpeace called on big corporations to act more responsibly. McDonald’s suffered a backlash.
  • Around 2000, we decided we needed to become much more proactive in communicating what was good about McDonald’s. We decided to learn from our critics rather than surrender the stage to them, and we forged relationships with nongovernment organizations. We realized that if we didn’t engage with critics and fix things, we would be in decline. Today, we partner with them in areas such as nutrition, animal welfare, and sustainable sources of supplies.
  • Our sustainability efforts include: eliminating trans fatty acids in products, teaching life skills to employees, supporting sustainable agriculture, promoting animal welfare standards, making packaging materials from recycled fiber, and using sustainable logistics such as recycling cooking oil into biodiesel to fuel our trucking fleet.
  • We’ve collaborated with Greenpeace and other organizations to develop a moratorium on using Amazon rainforest land for soybean production. Greenpeace helped us get the story out there. Greenpeace and McDonald’s never will be in complete agreement on all issues, but we hope we can partner on things that are important to McDonald’s and Greenpeace as well as our customers.
  • To boost our image overseas and combat anti-Americanism, in 2001 we created the Open Door program in France, in which we invite people to come into the restaurant, even in the kitchen, to see what we are all about. Today, McDonald’s France enjoys some of our system’s highest trust scores.
  • In Germany, we introduced the Quality Scouts program, in which members of the public can audit any aspect of our restaurants and suppliers – from farm to fork  – and they comment publicly on their findings. It has been very successful in our goals to be open and accessible and demonstrate pride in our business.
  • Our formula for growth is to continue building restaurants in 10 markets that we believe are very big. They include China, Eastern Europe, Spain, Italy and the United States, which still has a lot of potential for growth. We only grow where people want us to be and where we can do well financially.

 

Jack Daly is responsible for McDonald’s Corp.’s global communications.  He joined McDonald’s in 1992. His previous positions included vice president of public affairs at Taco Bell, press secretary for the governor of Ohio, and sports writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer.


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