McDonald’s company was founded in 1948. Since then, it has rapidly grown and now, it operates in many countries all over the world. By the end of 2008, McDonald's accounted for 31,967 restaurants in 118 countries (James, 2009). McDonald’s mission can be defined as being a favorite place to eat. Also, it implies being one team, respecting customers, and trying to develop continuously (Farfan, n.d.).
The company has a public statement about business ethics for employees, “McDonald's is committed to conducting business ethically and in compliance with the letter and spirit of the law. Such commitment is reflected in McDonald's Values. Inherent in each value is our commitment to be ethical, truthful and dependable and this is reflected through our Standards of Business Conduct which serves as a guide to making good decisions and conducting business ethically” (About McDonald’s, 2014g).
Board of directors has a public code of conduct, as well. Its main points include acting in the best interests of shareholders, fairness, avoiding conflicts of interests, not using confidential information for personal advantage etc. (About McDonald’s, 2013). Suppliers also have their code of conduct. They are responsible for environmental care, compliance with law, anti-bribery, audits, assessments, fair accounting, confidentiality, human rights, and other standards (About McDonald’s, 2012). Parts of the website are attached in the appendix.
Ethical responsibility to consumers is important for McDonald’s company as customer experience is a basis of the company’s development and the reason for its existence. The company demonstrates its appreciation by offering customers high quality food and good service in a clean, welcoming environment. Its motto is quality, service, cleanliness, and value (QSC&V) for all customers forever (About McDonald’s, 2014d).
Ethical responsibility to employees is widely promoted in McDonald’s company. It pays much attention to its employees. McDonald's has been recognized as a good company to work in as it operates in more than 30 markets. In 2014, the company was the 22nd Most Admired Company in the World. In 2013, McDonald's was the 8th Best Company for Leadership. Moreover, McDonald’s company has been a member of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index since 2005. In addition, it is among the companies that are doing well in the sphere of inclusion and diversity (About McDonald’s, 2014b). The company has a well-developed system of payments. A "pay for performance" philosophy exists there. It means that the better results the employee has, the greater his/her pay opportunities are. The most hard-working employees are provided with a company car (About McDonald’s, 2014e). Besides, exceptional employees and college students can even receive scholarship as special programs have been developed for that purpose (About McDonald’s, 2014f).
McDonald’s company maintains ethical responsibility to its shareholders and investors. The official website provides current stock information, latest financial news related to McDonald’s, company profile, information about corporate governance, etc. (About McDonald’s, 2014c). Annual reports are available from 2000 (About McDonald’s, 2014a).
Ethical responsibility to suppliers and distributors is also important for McDonald’s company. Suppliers should provide products of high quality in order to cooperate with McDonald’s. The company has many supplier policies: Animal Welfare, Environmental Scorecard, Rainforest Conservation, Sustainable Fisheries, Packaging Scorecard, etc. (About McDonald’s, 2014h). In addition, there is McDonald’s Supplier Code of Conduct, which involves all rules the suppliers must follow (About McDonald’s, 2012).
According to the official website information, McDonald’s is among ethically responsible companies. However, in fact, it has experienced many ethical issues including problems with customer service. The restaurant chain discovered that about 20% of customer complaints related to customer service. Their number is constantly increasing, according to a presentation provided to franchise owners (Lutz, 2013). There are other ethical problems with customers, as well. For example, McDonald’s was often blamed for marketing and advertising to children, because advertised food is not healthy and can cause obesity if eaten regularly.
“San Francisco is one of the cities that have voted to ban selling toys with fast food for children that exceed certain levels of salt, fat, carbohydrates, and sugar. McDonald’s was accused of deceptive marketing practices to children over the lure of toys as an inducement to buy Happy Meals” (O'Brien, 2011).
The company’s ethical responsibility to employees is also not perfect. Many employees are not satisfied with wages and working conditions. Rude clients and hazardous kitchens are large problems. Employees are often not paid more if they work on holidays (Kelley, 2012).
Some problems with suppliers and ethical production took place, as well. According to investigations, the Amazon rainforest destruction occurred because of McDonald’s business,
“The report, published today, follows a 7,000km chain that starts with the clearing of virgin forest by farmers and leads directly to Chicken McNuggets being sold in British and European fast food restaurants. It also alleges that much of the soya animal feed arriving in the UK from Brazil is a product of "forest crime" and that McDonald's and British supermarkets have turned a blind eye to the destruction of the forest” (Vidal, 2006).
In addition, the company and its pork supplier, Smithfield Foods, were blamed for unethical pig treatment (Chen, 2011).
McDonald’s company has many ethical issues. There are several recommendations as to how eliminate them. First, it is important to satisfy customers’ needs, thus, high quality service should be provided. Also, it is necessary to eliminate advertising to children and attracting them with toys. The food served in McDonald’s should be healthier. Treatment of employees should be better. For example, McDonald’s could provide better working conditions and additional pay for work during holidays. Supplier and environmental issues could also be eliminated. For instance, the company could choose suppliers more carefully paying particular attention to their animal and environment treatment.
Many conclusions can be made from this paper. Business ethics is important for all companies. They often publish much information about their ethical responsibility on their websites, and McDonald’s is not an exception. However, real situation is often far from established concepts and rules. McDonald’s has many ethical issues to solve.
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