By Wendy Lewis, Global Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President of Global Community Engagement for McDonald’s Corporation
You may have noticed something a little different about our hallmark Golden Arches today. In celebration of women everywhere, and for the first time in our brand history, we flipped our iconic arches for International Women’s Day on March 8 in honor of the extraordinary accomplishments of women everywhere and especially in our restaurants.
Today in the U.S., 62% of McDonald’s employees are female, six out of 10 of restaurant managers are women and we have one of the largest supplier diversity programs designed to support our global operations.
These numbers represent incredible stories of perseverance and success — but they don’t as clearly show the ripple effect that these strong women can have in their own businesses and communities as they support a future generation of leaders. Take for example, Patricia Williams and her family, who are Owners and Operators in Los Angeles, Calif. Patricia became a McDonald’s Owner-Operator 30 years ago in a much different landscape than we find ourselves in today. She has encouraged her two daughters, Kerri Harper-Howie and Nicole Enearu to join the business as well. With their success, they continue to pay that opportunity forward with their commitment to supporting those that work in their restaurants.
Witness that ripple effect in action with Yazmin Bedoy who took a part-time job at one of Nicole’s stores for extra money. While working as a McDonald’s crew member, she found guidance and mentorship under Nicole which eventually led her to change her college major and pursue a management career at the restaurant. After several promotions, she is now one of the youngest general managers in her city, running a large, successful location in LA.
Both the Williams family’s story and Yazmin’s stick out to me because now more than ever McDonald’s commitment to gender and ethnic equality and advancement serves as our legacy and galvanizes our responsibility. From restaurant crew and management to our C-suite of senior leadership, Women play invaluable roles at all levels and together with our independent franchise owners we’re committed to their success. Our commitment comes from the top; CEO Steve Easterbrook was recently recognized by Catalyst as one of the CEO Champions of Change for his support and leadership in driving diversity, inclusion and gender equality. We embrace a mindset and a bold value proposition where EVERY individual feels that their culture, identity and experience is valued.
Through this partnership, we are providing more opportunities for women in the workplace, in our restaurants and in our supply chain. We’ve made progress as we’ve enhanced our benefits for our U.S.-based staff employees and employees at corporate-owned restaurants. We have invested in Archways to Opportunity, which provides tuition assistance, academic advising services, English language courses and more, all designed to help those who come through our doors realize and act on their full potential.
Is every story out there like Patricia Williams or Yazmin Bedoy? No. Are we perfect? Of course not. We know we have work to do and are committed to listening and working with others across business, government and our communities to improve and make stories like Yazmin’s in particular the norm, not the exception.
In reflecting on my personal journey as a Chief Diversity Officer, I chose to join McDonald’s at a time when many assumed that this would be my time to do less professionally and more personally. McDonald’s was and is that brand that I considered the opportunity of a lifetime because within the Arches there is much that positively impacts so many.
I know firsthand there is pride in our passion, commitment and responsibility to advance gender equality and that is evident throughout our organization, owner operators, and supply chain.
So today we say thank you and celebrate the achievements of many and tomorrow we continue our collective journey to gender equality and diversity.
Wendy Lewis is the Global Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President of Global Community Engagement for McDonald’s Corporation. McDonald’s has partnered with International Women’s Day in support of gender parity and to celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of women around the world.