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McDonald's new CEO takes aim at the company's 'party' culture

Amelia Lucas & Kate Rogers


McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski is trying to restore a more professional culture, starting with feedback from key stakeholders and applying the chain’s core values across the system of franchisees, suppliers and employees.

“When I started in this role, my commitment to you was to listen and learn across the System,” Kempczinski said in a message to employees obtained by CNBC. “In the past 9 weeks, I have been doing just that.”

Kempczinski said three things about McDonald’s make him proud: It creates opportunity, builds community and collaborates on solutions.

“All of this is underpinned by our core values, which are the bedrock of our company,” Kempczinski said. “We must now champion and apply them more evenly across the three-legged stool to be even stronger.”

The New Year’s message follows a Wall Street Journal reportpublished Sunday that alleged that under Kempczsinki’s predecessor, Steve Easterbrook, the company’s culture tolerated late-night socializing between senior managers and rank-and-file employees. Easterbrook and McDonald’s Chief People Officer David Fairhurst often partied with staffers after work hours, according to the Journal. Previous and current McDonald’s employees also told the Journal that Easterbrook allegedly had a reputation for flirting with female employees.

The fast-food giant’s board fired Easterbrook in November because he had a consensual relationship with an employee, which violated the company’s fraternization policy. Fairhurst departed the company the day after Easterbrook’s firing became public knowledge. The Journal said Fairhurst couldn’t be reached for comment and a representative for Easterbrook told the newspaper he wasn’t available to comment.

After taking over as CEO in mid-November, Kempczinski asked employees for feedback. More than 1,000 McDonald’s employees have responded via a survey. In Kempczinski’s message Monday, he said he was “impressed by the candid feedback.”

Kempczinski has also heard from other stakeholders about McDonald’s culture and ethics through meetings with corporate officers, marketing managing directors and the franchise leadership of the chain’s International Development Licensed markets. He also held in-person town halls with employees in the United Kingdom and Germany in late December.


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