Blog Post

How McDonald’s Is Dismantling Economic Barriers Through Business Diversity

By Krista Lindsey
April 21, 2023

McDonald’s and its largest US-based suppliers have taken a significant step towards promoting economic opportunity in their businesses and the communities they serve by participating in the company’s  Mutual Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (MCDEI). Through this commitment, McDonald’s and its signatories aim to empower diverse-owned businesses, foster diverse talent, promote innovation and competition, and bolster economic growth in diverse communities. Any US-based supplier is welcome to join the MCDEI, including companies that provide goods and services throughout the food supply chain, consulting and law firms, technology suppliers, and other third parties.

In 2020, McDonald’s US System spent around $14 billion in its US supply chain, with 23 percent going to diverse-owned suppliers, surpassing industry standards. By 2025, the company aims to increase its purchases from diverse-owned suppliers by nearly 10 percent, resulting in around $3.5 billion in diverse-owned supplier spending, about a quarter of total US spend. This commitment builds on McDonald’s long-standing partnership with diverse-owned businesses, with more than 385 currently supplying goods and services.

Recently, Seramount Managing Director Katie Mooney engaged in a fireside chat with McDonald’s Sr. Director of Global Diversity, Karmetria Dunham Burton, PhD. During the conversation, Dr. Burton highlighted how McDonald’s is fostering a community of change agents who will lead the charge in promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). She emphasized that McDonald’s acknowledges the importance of leveraging their extensive networks as a big brand to make a positive impact in the market. This recognition has led to their significant commitment toward promoting business diversity, a crucial step toward creating meaningful change in the realm of DEI.

What is Business Diversity?

According to Dr. Burton, McDonald’s views diversity as encompassing the work stream of supplier diversity that many companies prioritize. However, the company has chosen to define it as “business diversity” to reflect its unique approach. One reason for this shift is that not all of their suppliers are solely in the supplier industry; some vendors who supply their needs are connected to the service industry. Additionally, the goal is to equip their suppliers with the means to implement diversity, treating it as a business-to-business relationship.

McDonald’s aims to assist its suppliers in taking a holistic view of their business and applying best practices to promote diversity. By emphasizing business diversity, the company is taking a comprehensive approach to promoting diversity across its supply chain, paving the way for a more equitable and inclusive business environment.

How McDonald’s is Leading This Charge

Coaching and training suppliers internally is integral to the success of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts. Another important aspect is the workstream, which involves using diverse partners to increase diversity spend, set diversity goals, and promote inclusive business practices. To support these initiatives, McDonald’s has established the Mutual Commitment to Diversity, a program that focuses on three key areas: promoting inclusive workplaces and supply chains through accountability, inviting suppliers to join them on a journey of systemic change through DEI, and providing access to DEI best practices, tools, and thought leaders to help suppliers on this journey.

Dr. Burton emphasizes that McDonald’s holds its suppliers accountable for practicing DEI because the company takes a holistic approach to promoting diversity, looking beyond supplier diversity to consider workplace and community diversity as well. By encouraging suppliers to adopt inclusive practices across all areas of their business, McDonald’s is setting the foundation for long-lasting systemic change.

“The beauty of this is so many of our suppliers, as you can imagine, have different maturity levels down diversity, equity, and inclusion. …We’re not leaving any suppliers behind. We are joining hands with our suppliers and helping them meet the commitment of mutual commitment.” – Karmetria Dunham Burton, PhD

McDonald’s Mutual Commitment to Diversity includes three pillars that suppliers must commit to: workplace diversity, marketplace positioning, and community development. To assess where companies stand in these areas, McDonald’s asks questions such as:

  • What steps are you taking to create a safe and inclusive workplace for your employees?
  • How are you promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) through employee training and development programs?
  • What are your strategies for succession planning, especially for women and minorities with high potential?
  • Do you have a supplier diversity program or strategy in place? If so, what stage are they in?
  • Do you offer paid volunteer programs for your employees, and do you have relationships with academic and industry organizations?

By asking these questions and a few more not listed, McDonald’s is ensuring that their suppliers are committed to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion across all areas of their business, from their internal workplace culture to their relationships with academic and industry partners.

More than 20 US-based suppliers have joined the MCDEI pledge, committing to a set of goals that hold themselves accountable for advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion. These goals include implementing an overall DEI strategy that includes annual training for employees to develop as better DEI practitioners and leaders, increasing overall representation of underrepresented talent in leadership and staffing of McDonald’s business as well as accelerating their use of diverse suppliers. The suppliers have also committed to investing in innovation with new partnerships and programs designed to make a measurable difference in talent pipelines, succession planning, and communities where McDonald’s suppliers operate. Furthermore, they have created a process for accountability to track progress and share regular updates and best practices on effective programs and measurement.

Getting Started on Your Business Diversity Strategy

If you’re interested in starting your business diversity strategy, check out some of our resources:

You can also speak to our experts about engaging leaders in business diversity initiatives and subscribe to our newsletter for more DEI best practices.

About the Author

Krista Lindsey
Krista Lindsey
Associate Director, Product Marketing