The diversity that we have represents the growth of our business ... we're very proud of that," says Pat Harris, vice president and global chief diversity officer at McDonald's.
Under the Golden Arches, everyone is equal, everyone is welcome and everyone is valued for who they are and what they have to contribute. That's the message from Ms. Harris.
She talks proudly about the many programs, practices and policies embedded in the Oak Brook, IL.-based corporation that have taken McDonald's to the top of the 2010 HispanicBusiness Diversity Best Companies.
A Place at the Table
"It's important to make sure everyone is at the table," says Ms. Harris, using an especially appropriate metaphor in the case of the international fast food giant.
From the pinnacle of the company – board chairman Andy McKenna and CEO Jim Skinner – across multiple geographic regions, such as the Canadian and Latin American regions headed by Jose Armario, she says diversity is part of the fabric at McDonald's. "Diversity is everybody's business."
Ms. Harris has been with the company for 34 years, the first decade in human resources before switching to what was then known as affirmative action and has now morphed into diversity and inclusion.
"It's evolved over the years," she says. "Previously there was a lot of counting heads. Now we're making heads count. The diversity that we have represents the growth of our business. We're very proud of that."
And they have good reason for pride, because diversity is embedded in every aspect of the MacDonald's enterprise. Gustavo Viano, director of outreach diversity and brand management, likens the company's diversity programs to a three-legged stool. All legs must be in place to create a solid platform.
A Three-Legged Stool
The three legs of the stool comprise diversity in company employees, diversity in franchisees and diversity in suppliers.
"Diversity is no accident at MacDonalds," says Mr. Viano. "We are committed to diversity in everything we do, with one group acting as role models for the others."
Employee diversity is supported by the company's "English Under the Arches" program, which helps improve the English language skills of employees who have different native tongues.
That is supplemented by a "Spanish Under the Arches" program that teaches employees Spanish skills so they can better meet the needs of some Hispanic communities. The programs are available online, so that all employees can access them, and they are available in both Spanish and English.
A Hispanic Business Development team was formed six years ago to examine Latino culture and to make sure restaurants are equipped to best serve the needs of Hispanic customers.
"They found that Hispanic customers like to take their entire family to the restaurant," says Mr. Viano. The company responded to the data by installing larger areas where a larger family can sit and comfortable eat— clever outlet marketing that aims to help the chains grow.
And how McDonald's has grown since Ray Kroc opened the first restaurant in Des Plaines, Il., close to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, in 1955. A decade later there were 700 restaurants across the U. S. and today that number has soared past 14,000.
Every day the company serves 60 million customers at more than 30,000 eateries in 118 countries. The global workforce is 1.6 million; around 650,000 work in the U. S., of whom, says Ms. Harris, more than 40 percent are minorities and over 60 per cent are women.
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