How we are thinking differently about our role in society

While 2020 has forced each of us to grapple with difficult issues — from the Covid-19 pandemic to social justice to climate change — it has also made clear that no single government or organization will be able to solve them all. It’s going to take all of us, which is why now, more than ever, people are also looking to leading brands and businesses to be part of the solution.

© Ronald McDonald House Charities
Volunteers cook dinner at a Ronald McDonald House in Taiwan.

Companies like ours are fortunate to have the global presence and scale to help tackle big challenges. In the 100 markets where McDonald’s operates, we see about 80% of the population in a given year and serve about 65 million people a day.

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Few organizations have that kind of reach, and our customers rightly expect us to use it to make a difference.

Consumers tell us that when they feel good about brands and when they understand that a corporation’s purpose, mission and values match their own, they will visit more often.

There is no formula a company can use to define its purpose. It has to flow authentically from what a company values, how it acts and what it does in the world.

We at McDonald’s are challenging ourselves and our restaurants to go further, to do better and to listen and learn. Over the past year, we have engaged our customers, franchisees, suppliers and employees about what they value most about McDonald’s and our nearly 40,000 restaurants in local communities around the world — and how we can do more to be a good example.

We know they love our food and our iconic menu. We also found that they value the role we play in local communities, donating millions of pounds of food from our supply chain and hot meals to neighbors and first responders in times of need. They value sourcing sustainable, high-quality food, locally whenever possible. They value that we provide jobs and opportunity to our neighbors and that we work with our suppliers to scale sustainable environmental practices.

But they have also challenged us to be a better leader on diversity and inclusion, to create more opportunities for people of all backgrounds at senior levels and to do more to empower and uplift all members of our McDonald’s family.

What we realized is that for 65 years, McDonald’s purpose has been to both feed and foster communities. To our franchisees, suppliers and employees, the words “billions served” aren’t just about the burgers and fries we serve, but the tens of thousands of communities around the world that we serve. Two weeks ago, we unveiled a bigger, more holistic growth strategy that must deliver across four critical areas — our purpose, mission, values and growth pillars — in order to better serve our customers, our communities and our employees while taking a stand in the world.

Normally this week, that work is on display through thousands of volunteers who take time away from their own families to cook and serve delicious meals at their local Ronald McDonald House — one of the many vital programs offered by Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC). Created in part with the support of McDonald’s restaurant owners in 1974, RMHC helps millions of families with ill or injured children each year, ensuring they have access to medical care they need and providing resources to help them stay together during treatment.

Even as Covid-19 has put restrictions on in-person volunteering, Americans in local communities are still finding ways to provide a holiday meal for families who are going through unimaginable difficulties — like sending grocery store gift cards or having a catered meal from a local restaurant delivered.

We’re inspired by their dedication and excited to launch a new social challenge this week called #HereForRMHC to rally additional, much-needed support. As part of the campaign, we are committing $100 million to RMHC over five years, starting this year. And we’re doing it on behalf of our tens of millions of customers.

In December, we will spotlight the opportunity customers have to “round up” their order to the nearest dollar at participating restaurants in the United States. Funds raised will go directly to support sick children and their families through RMHC.

For companies like McDonald’s, this is the beginning of a new era, where our growth will depend more than ever not just on what we do, but how we do it in communities around the world. This isn’t just how we succeed. This is how we serve.

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