What McDonald’s and Corporate Responsibility Have In Common

When we think of the global franchise McDonald’s, it’s unlikely we think of a company at the forefront of corporate environmental and sustainability. I personally have visions of a red French fry basket. And maybe a burger. And a multicolored slide.
What if I were to tell you that not do they have sustainable planet and food responsibility in their values, they have been leading the positive corporate shift in these areas for decades?
You’re probably raising your eyebrows in skepticism right now.
I don’t blame you.
In many ways, McDonald’s is one of our favorite companies to hate. Just ask the protesters who have been campaigning against them all summer. How could I forget the iconic Super Size Me documentary from 2004?
Add to that, if you type “McDonald’s sued” into Google you will likely see:
  • For napkin;
  • For obesity;
  • For hot chocolate.
Yes. They were sued for a napkin. Let’s not even bring up the time they were sued for not reaching a goal fast enough. Good thing I’ve never had a sue happy personal trainer. Ouch!
But back to McDonald’s.
The idea of this large corporation championing animal welfare, taking proactive measure to reduce waste and bringing companies together to define sustainability seems preposterous.
Warning- your jaw is about to drop.
McDonald’s has been a corporate leader in all of the aforementioned areas since the 70’s. In fact, animal welfare in slaughterhouses across the entire U.S. would look very different if not for them spearheading a partnership with Dr. Temple Grandin.
During that time, McDonald’s decided that they wanted to work exclusively with slaughterhouses that met humane standards for animal treatment. Dr. Grandin, a leading animal welfare expert, both defined the standards and evaluated the plants against them. Once the plants were evaluated, they were given an grace period to adjust their practices.
That partnership redefined the animal handling standards that slaughterhouses have. To say that the slaughterhouses improved their treatment of animals drastically is an understatement.
Interestingly enough, the adjustments were approached in a very pro business manner. Out of 75 processing plants, only 3 had to invest in expensive equipment or remodeling to achieve the new standards implemented by McDonald’s. It’s further proof that these causes are not always an extra expense. Many times it’s just approaching the issue in a different light.
Shortly after McDonald’s lead the charge, Wendy’s joined the movement. These plants sourced to multiple large-scale chains, further spreading awareness and implementation of the standards.
Since that time, McDonald’s has instigated countless measures to help achieve their vision of sustainability, better food sourcing and measures that are good for the planet.
Are they perfect? No.
No company is. But we need more companies like McDonald’s to realize their power of implementing sustainable and responsible business practices. What’s really exciting is that McDonald’s has set the path for other corporations to see that these measure achieve both socially responsible endeavors and help the bottom line.
Additionally they are inviting other organizations (NGOs, businesses, and nonprofits alike) to the conversation. Stay tuned for our episode highlighting their global round table.
In episode 6 of the Positive Impact Podcast, I connect with the former Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility & Sustainability for McDonald’s, Bob Langert. He outlines many of the different business friendly measures that McDonald’s has taken to realize sustainable goals.