Corporate Social Responsibility at McDonald's
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) or corporate citizenship entails companies behaving in a
socially responsible manner, and dealing with other business parties who do the same. With growing
public awareness and demand for socially responsible businesses, it is little wonder that companies
of today take corporate social responsibility into account when planning future socially responsible
business operations. This case study on McDonald's social responsibility examines one such example
of corporate social responsibility exemplified by McDonald's.
McDonald's is the world's largest chain of hamburger fast food restaurants. According to the
McDonald's Corporate Social Responsibility website, McDonald's take on corporate social
responsibility or CSR of McDonalds is about taking action, achieving results and always maintaining
open lines of communication with its customers and other key stakeholders.
Sustainable Supply Chain Strategy
McDonald's works with its suppliers to promote socially responsible practices in its supply chain as
part of its supply chain strategy. This is part of its wider Framework for Corporate Social
Responsibility. As described on its corporate social responsibility website, it has its own Code of
Conduct for Suppliers which describes how McDonald's expects its suppliers to treat their
employees. It has also sought to extend social accountability throughout its supply chain as part of
its supply chain strategy. McDonald's has succeeded in supporting suppliers who are phasing out
sow gestation crates in their supply chain. According to its website, currently, more than 50% of all
Cargill's contracted hog farms are in new-generation systems that do not use gestation stalls.
For example, McDonald's embarked on a sustainability project to improve conditions for farm
workers in the Florida tomato industry in 2007, which in turn promotes good environmental
practices in its land-based agricultural supply chain and makes the farm a sustainable business.
Although McDonald's purchases only 1.5% of Florida's tomatoes annually, McDonald's and its
suppliers instituted industry-leading grower standards that improved working conditions in these
farms and made the farm a sustainable business.
Engaging the Community through Community-based Projects
One approach to engaging in corporate social responsibility is through community-based
development projects. Community-based and community-driven development projects have become
an important form of development assistance among global socially responsible companies. An
economic relationship implies a strategy of engaging the wider community into the core business
activity of the company so that communities become embedded in corporate supply chain strategy to
create a sustainable business.
An example of this approach of McDonald's and its contribution to the communities is seen in launch
of its Flagship Farms Initiative (FAI) in Europe. The program showcases seven "progressive farms"
employing innovative farming practices across Europe and carries out research into how ethical
farming practices can be incorporated into commercial farming systems. Another example is seen in
the Sustainable Fisheries program which is in collaboration with the Sustainable Fisheries
Partnership. This program defines sustainability standards that guide all of McDonalds's purchases
worldwide for wild-caught fish that goes into making those Fillet-o-Fish and make the relevant
fishery a more sustainable business.
McDonald's also donates a portion of its pre-tax profits to corporate philanthropy as part of its
efforts to be more socially responsible. McDonald's makes charitable contributions through the
Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) which aims to create, find and support programs that
directly improve the health and well being of children.
According to Clara Carrier of Ronald McDonald House Charities, in particular, the Ronald McDonald
Care Mobile attempts to ensure that children in vulnerable communities can receive state-of-the-art
medical and dental treatment to improve their health and strengthen the whole family. This health
care on wheels program attempts to change children's lives and improve communities along the
About the author
Jo Bilson is a management consultant with interests including venture capital and entrepreneurial
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