In December, McDonald’s announced that it would invest $250 million over the next five years to increase the number of minority-owned franchises in the United States. their operators.
Although this investment in increasing representation seems like a good thing, but when you consider other details that are happening with the fast food chain, it is causing some raised eyebrows.
In recent years, nearly 80 black franchisees have sued McDonald’s for racial discrimination. Dozens of these operators have come together for a class action. And others have complained individually. The lawsuits allege that practices within McDonald’s prevented black operators from securing prime locations, to the point that the company blocked deals that had already been agreed. Additionally, franchisees claim that the company’s discriminatory practices have resulted in black operators having lower sales numbers than their non-black counterparts.
McDonald’s denies any form of discrimination. They settled some of the lawsuits.
Building a diverse team is about more than attracting diverse talent. You also need to keep them there. With multiple lawsuits citing similar concerns, here’s what McDonald’s should be doing right now instead of trying to attract more diverse talent. This lesson applies to any brand that wants to build a more representative team.
Put their house in order
Whenever we invite people over to our house, my husband and I spend a lot of time cleaning before hand. It’s not that our house is a disaster (although it sometimes is), it’s just that we want to make sure it’s in great shape when we host other people, so that they feel cared for and like they belong.
You must do the same with your culture. Before welcoming new talents, especially those who are different from you, make sure your house is in order. Clean everything thoroughly, not just the areas you think the talent will hit.
Assess your employer’s value proposition, reputation, recruiting and onboarding practices. Take the time to capture information about why certain talents stay and why others leave. Do a thorough analysis to understand if there are areas in your existing culture that are causing harm, especially to certain groups, and what areas could be improved.
Unless you intend to create an environment in which all team members can thrive, you may only discover after significant harm that some systems and practices push others away, rather to make them feel like they belong.
When I worked at my company, every couple of years we would do a big survey to assess how well the company and our individual departments were doing in living up to the company values. The questions were many and each team had to examine the answers in detail and create and implement action plans to address the areas of concern. If management needed clarification on some of the results, they encouraged team members to provide additional feedback directly.
You could take a more formal approach like this through surveys and focus groups. You can also take a more informal approach by inviting team members over for coffee and creating a safe space for them to candidly share their specific experiences and observations with the culture.
If you happen to receive comments that you don’t like or agree with, don’t reject them. Don’t overlook how your team feels or what their experiences are, especially when they are different from yours or other team members.
Take the time to get to the root of what makes them feel this way, even if it means having difficult conversations or facing difficult realities. Additionally, receiving feedback and doing nothing about it signals to your team that there is no benefit to be shared if there is no action or improvement.
Don’t limit your focus on fostering an inclusive environment to just one time. Company cultures must be constantly maintained, like gardens. You can’t just pull the weeds once and be done with it. You need to constantly maintain it for your garden to thrive. Your crop also needs to be nurtured and nurtured on an ongoing basis.
No matter your history or what your culture looks like today, with intentional focus and effort, you can create a mature environment for every member of your team to feel both a part of and a thriving one.