Knowledge Center

McDonald’s Corporation—Freedom Within a Framework: Global Women's Initiative

At McDonald’s Corporation, a strong commitment to inclusion is embedded in the business plan and corporate values. This perspective led the company to build on its successful and longstanding diversity work in the United States by creating Freedom Within a Framework: Global Women's Initiative. The initiative benefits women and men around the globe at all levels—from restaurant crew members to senior leaders—through empowered, localized groups and a focus on continuous improvement. Since its inception in 2006, outcomes to advance women globally have been achieved, most notably in Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, and Africa (APMEA), Europe, and the United States.

The initiative takes a multi-pronged approach that allows various programmatic and structural elements to scale globally in ways that are relevant to local markets. The Women’s Leadership Network (WLN), which is the initiative’s primary delivery mechanism, is managed through a global hierarchy of regional steering committees that share detailed business plans, communications strategies, and best practices. The WLN is supported by regional line leaders and functions as a super–network, influencing policy decisions and providing skills development and training. For example, the regional APMEA steering committee developed a toolkit to help launch new chapters across the region; in Europe, WLN leaders addressed work-life balance concerns by implementing core meeting hours and job-sharing. In addition to the WLN, global and regional conferences empower women and men at restaurant and corporate levels, and employees are educated continuously through diversity workshops tailored to meet the needs of employees in different countries. McDonald’s also ensures that it nurtures talent from within through global high-potential programs that are composed of at least 40 percent women, and by offering many opportunities for international assignments and job rotations. To ensure equity in promotion decisions, leadership discusses talent biannually, and a robust Performance Development System holds managers accountable for developing people and embracing diversity and inclusion.

As a result of the initiative, women at all levels have benefitted. The representation of women as restaurant managers—a critical stepping-stone to leadership roles—has increased significantly across all three regions from 2006 to 2009: in APMEA, from 27 percent to 35 percent; in Europe, from 45 percent to 52 percent; and in the United States, from 62 percent to 64 percent. Additionally, the percentage of women in market leadership roles has grown substantially between 2006 and 2010: women managing directors increased from 0 to 36 percent in APMEA and from 10 percent to 14 percent in Europe; in the United States, women general managers increased from 13 percent to 38 percent. Between 2006 and 2009, the percentage of women on the board of directors also increased from 14 percent to 23 percent.