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McDonald's Code of Ethics for Employees

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The code of ethics that McDonald's employees are expected to abide by is covered in the corporation's Standards of Business Conduct document. Each year, all employees must sign a document certifying that they've read the document and will follow its precepts. Employees also attend training related to the ethical standards. The document is 40-plus pages and covers six themes.

Obligations to Customers

McDonald's fosters an ethical obligation to provide clean, hygienic restaurants; child-friendly toys; and a safe atmosphere for all customers. This means that safety standards for food and toys should match or exceed government standards. The obligation includes ensuring that all advertising is honest and tasteful, and that confidential information is not shared.

Obligations to Employees

McDonald's standards booklet includes a section on providing a positive experience for its employees. For example, employees are encouraged to report misconduct without fear of retaliation. The work environment should be positive and fair, free of harassment and violence. Harassment can include sexual harassment, racial jokes and offensive comments. The corporation believes in diversity and treating all employees equally, according to the ethics code.

Corporate System

McDonald's believes that its corporations and employees have an ethical obligation to act in the best interest of McDonald's itself -- and not for personal gain. Owners and operators of McDonald's restaurants should act independently but with integrity, following all relevant laws ans safety guidelines. Suppliers should also be treated fairly.

Ethical Guidelines

The corporate standards book includes a section on ethical guidelines for dealing with McDonald's assets. These obligations include protecting the intellectual property of McDonald's and its assets. For example, employees shouldn't use company computers to transmit illegal information or use the McDonald's logo for personal gain. Any conflicts of interest should be immediately shared with the company's Global Compliance Office. This includes working with family and friends. Bribery is strictly prohibited.

Helping Out Communities

One of the cornerstones of McDonald's employees' ethical obligations is giving back to the community. Employees donate millions in money and hours of service every year, the company says. However, political donations made by the company must be approved by the government relations department. An employee who wants to donate time or money to a political candidate is free to do so, but only on his personal time and at his own expense. McDonald's also focuses on environmental health, such as investing in climate change innovations and conservation efforts.

Seeking Profit and Improvement

While seeking profit and growth is of utmost importance to McDonald's, its corporate standards book stipulates that no employee should engage in such actions if it violates antitrust or fair competition laws. Competitive advantages shouldn't be gained through unfair or illegal trade, but through research, marketing and quality service. An independent Board of Directors provides monitoring and communication to the shareholders, and internal investigations will be ordered to look into any potential employee misconduct.


With features published by media such as Business Week and Fox News, Stephanie Dube Dwilson is an accomplished writer with a law degree and a master's in science and technology journalism. She has written for law firms, public relations and marketing agencies, science and technology websites, and business magazines.

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