“There’s Disgusting Behaviour at My Branch.”

With horrible headline articles like the above, the ongoing story about behaviour at McDonald’s in the UK serves as a reminder to all organisations to put policies and practices in place to ensure the behaviour of all managers and employees meets the law and expectations.

For the past few months, there have been BBC investigations, programmes and several other headline articles running about McDonald’s such as

  • McDonald’s told to shut franchises over abuse claims
  • McDonald’s abuse claims personally shocking – boss
  • MeToo hasn’t helped McDonald’s teenage workers

Months after the BBC first revealed sexual abuse claims at the fast food chain, employees continue to report “disgusting behaviour” in their branches. They include claims of sexual assault, harassment, racism and bullying. Employees say they were being groped and harassed almost routinely.

McDonald’s has said it is determined to root out behaviour that falls below the high standards it expects of staff.

According to the BBC, McDonald’s is one of the UK’s largest private-sector employers with more than 170,000 people working in 1,450 restaurants. It also has one of the UK’s youngest workforces, with three-quarters of staff aged 16 to 25. For many, it is their first job. Most workers are not directly employed by the company as McDonald’s uses a franchise system, which means individual operators are licensed to run the outlets and employ the staff. However, the corporation does exercise some control over franchisees. The company requires them to ensure “uniformity and commitment” to the McDonald’s brand so that customers can expect the same experience in every restaurant.

However, according to the BBC reporting, employees say nothing has changed and the sexist, racist and bullying culture continues. Employees continue to report a toxic work environment. Young females seem to be especially vulnerable to sexist remarks, groping behaviour and more.

What Should Organisations Do?

The question for all organisations is “What are we doing to prevent or tackle such issues”?

McDonald’s has stated that they immediately initiated:

  • a company-wide programme of independent investigations, 
  • auditing of all their complaints processes, 
  • reviewed all their codes of conduct and, 
  • conducted disciplinary hearings in a number of cases.

Other hugely important measures to take, in organisations in Ireland, would be:

  • train all employees, regarding bullying, harassment and sexual harassment, and the behaviours that are not acceptable, and what to do if experiencing them
  • train all managers regarding what to do to prevent and spot issues, and how to deal with bad behaviour or investigate complaints (informal or formal)
  • establish and train a cohort of contact persons in the organisation
  • train a cohort of internal investigators

Other measures to take would include:

  • Update the relevant policies
  • Continually assess this matter and how the company is doing through surveys
  • Ensure there is an Employee Assistance Programme
  • Where standards have been breached, appropriate action is taken.