Feb 10, 2021 in Exploratory

McDonalds and Corporate Social Responsibility

Since the 1990s, the United States lifestyle went global and it has been McDonalds as one of the most successful brands that expanded Americanism worldwide. This company is a global fast food chain that serves more than 68 million customers a day in 119 countries throughout 36,000 restaurants. The business revolves around creating the innovative customer experience with relation to selling snacks, milkshakes, fries, breakfast items, deserts, and soft drinks. Based on the franchising business model and close relationships with suppliers, the company has won the reputation of the leading restaurant in quick service industry. Starting from the 2000s, the multinational food provider has shifted from a solely philanthropic approach to corporate social responsibility and sufficiently broadened the scope of its strategic initiatives. Regardless of that McDonalds is an internationally recognized brand that constantly reports about its CSR endeavors, these efforts are always perceived as ventures of double nature. This twofold character of McDonalds CSR is discussed in the paper.


Analysis of CSR

As it was noted, McDonalds CSR business domain has substantially expanded the context of its operations and covered several dimensions of its performance as key aspects of strategic management. First, the issue concerns customers themselves, especially children as primary target audience. To be more precise, the recent annual report informed about that 95% Happy Meals as one of the most favorite items in children menus offered low-fat dairy and fruits for young consumers . This step may seem a good way to reduce the calorie consumption for the vulnerable population. Nonetheless, other Happy Meal constituents, such as hamburgers, cheeseburgers, French fries or Chicken McNuggets, have extremely detrimental effects on children growing organisms. These fast food dishes are listed among the main contributors to child obesity and overweight which are well-covered with the CSR voile and well thought out marketing campaigns. Moreover, the global fast-food retailer asserted that one attempts to improve the health and well being of children by means of providing financial support to approximately 7 million children and their families throughout the world. In accordance with the previous example, it is evident that the consequence is opposite: namely, unhealthy food cannot make an improvement effect. At the same time, paying off to the primary customers and measuring CSR in numerical equivalents does not seem an actual embodiment of CSR as it has been conceptualized. Specifically, CSR is referred to as the commitment of business to contribute to sustainable economic development, working with employees, their families, the local community and society at large to improve their quality of life. In this respect, adding a fruit to the menu and corporate philanthropy can be perceived as a PR-friendly marketing approach rather than CSR as it was defined.

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Second, recycling was reported as an additional CSR initiative of the company. In particular, this domain concerned 90% of cooking oil and 77% of corrugated cardboard been recycled. Apart from that, this strategy is linked to partnership with nonprofits, such as Environmental Defense Fund, and McDonalds commitment to reduce its waste by 30% and further work on decrease of this impact. However, this commitment as well as the amounts of reduced environmental footprint cannot be verified whereas this is the companys representatives who report the indicators.

Third, on a similar note, engagement with numerous non-for-profit organizations does not make the company overly socially responsible. Undoubtedly, McDonalds partners many important nonprofits that deal with different dimensions of social responsibility, including Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, Business for Social Responsibility, Global Food Safety Initiative, and Multicultural Foodservice and Hospitality Alliance among others. However, this partnership still can be regarded as a pay-off approach rather than real commitment to make a change in the industry on the global arena. What is more, even the trusts to the nonprofits can be undermined with engagement in these initiatives. For instance, it seems questionable how one of the major partners of the Alliance for Healthier Generation can evidence own commitment to this partnership. McDonalds earns main returns and revenues from the growing generation of its consumers by selling junk food to the children and greatly contributing to obesity in this population segment.

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Fourth, McDonalds promotes stakeholder engagement: our journey together for good. For instance, an emphasis was made on consumer education embodied in Our Food. Your Questions initiative, which comprised of a social media forum where consumers learned about food safety and preparation in the company. Additionally, the fast-food chain paid sufficient attention to multidimensional employee training and announced this as a part of CSR accomplishment. Nonetheless, such factors still can be perceived as mere attempts to enhance their business performance, attract more consumers by positioning oneself as a reliable provider and increase profits.

Therefore, the brief overview of McDonalds CSR strategy shows more money-driven character rather than actual aspirations for changing the situation in the world, even though such a giant and huge market-holder is more than capable to do so. It seems that CSR has become a suitable and well-applied approach for the brand to further expand its consumer base and ensure their long-term loyalty. At the same time, McDonalds CSR strategy looks like profit-sharing and paying-off the identified population segments in the community rather than contributing to the common good. Undoubtedly, the company has well-organized promotion campaigns which definitely allow consumer attachment together for good where the latter is regarded as long-lasting consumption partnership with material gains for the food retailer but not making something good to global community.

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Drawing upon the information presented in the paper, McDonalds is an influential business player in the international arena whereas its position as a global fast-food restaurant leader speaks for itself. Although the management of the company shows commitment to engaging in numerous CSR frameworks from differing perspectives, the real implementation of these strategies is overly business-oriented. Each of the discussed approaches do position business interests above all or demonstrate a too insufficient effect on addressing the problem within social domain which they should seemingly target. To illustrate, Happy Meal items and partnering the Alliance for Healthier Generation are more than vivid example in this respect. Moreover, the proposed approaches seem fragmented and business interests prevail in any aspect of such strategies. Finally, these are mostly philanthropic and pay-off initiatives. In any case, McDonalds is a worldwide business and it has all resources and opportunities to actually transform the vision of the sector and redirect its mission and commitment to CSR-driven in deeds and actions rather than in promotion.


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