McDonald's Institutionalizes Diversity With Career Management for Executives

Published: Sep 09, 2010


Contrary to what its name might suggest, McDonald's Hamburger University does more than just train its franchise owners and restaurant managers. At the company's inclusion and diversity benchmarking day last week, team members presented on how a companywide focus on diversity recruitment and training is vital to McDonald's growth.

Director of Education H Walker focused on the training aspect (yes, he goes by H—but he wouldn't tell us why). A consultant and executive coach by trade, Walker joined McDonald's early this year to further propel its leadership development programs. And being a member of the inclusion and diversity team helps keep his efforts connected with the vision of Global Chief Diversity Office Pat Harris. Emphasizing that "everyone needs to feel respected and valued on both sides of the table, regardless of what your job is," Walker discussed the core elements of his program: Values, Beliefs, Behaviors, and Sustainability beyond the classroom.

Insisting that it is necessary that everyone in the organization feel like a practitioner, he described his work as "facilitating behavioral change, not teaching new skills." While he conducts many of his classes from Hamburger University facilities, Walker made sure to distinguish his coaching program from the more skill set and training-oriented modules offered by the university. With his sessions tilting more toward facilitation and debates than finding yes and no answers, the forums offer managers the opportunity to honestly and candidly discuss issues related to organizational development, decision making, working with diverse teams and evolving as new generations join the workforce.

The answer to why his work lives within the global inclusion and diversity team is integral to the vision Pat Harris has spent the past 34 years implementing: One that places diversity hiring and development central to strategic growth and expansion at McDonald's.

Of course, this alignment also keeps Walker's curriculum centered and unique from the type of leadership development programs offered by many companies today.

For example, a recent course is offered exclusively to the company's white, male executives. Structured as an opportunity to openly discuss their workplace struggles, the module, according to Walker, helps executives redefine their behavioral mindsets by offering them a spectrum of perspectives. These don’t only touch upon professional relationships and working with people from different ethnic backgrounds but also on leading a team with a variety of gender, generational and ability differences.

You know you're on the right track when special treatment for white males is seen as a positive step toward a more inclusive workforce!

Next: The evolution of McDonald's CSR department and why it lives within the Inclusion and Diversity Team