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McDonalds Sexual Assault claims – 400 complaints and rising

McDonalds Sexual Assault

It seems almost daily even large organisations can get it cataclysmically wrong when it comes to handling Human Resource/criminal complaints. What we have noticed is a trend of HR complaints happening in organisations that are spread across locations and, if a complainant goes viral, the fallout is then huge.

McDonalds are one such organisation. They have small teams operating in retail stores disparately located from each other and therefore hard for central HQ support to remain in communication with shopfloor staff.

Additionally for McDonalds, they have a young workforce, 75% of whom are under 25. Inexperienced female staff are vulnerable in the workplace to being preyed upon by older team members, or worse management.

With Social Media now at everyone’s fingertips, it takes one person to mention something for a wave of complaints as people subjected to inappropriate behaviour start to share their stories across the organisation and social media.

So you could say, how can it be that people suffering this kind of thing can find a way of using technology to share their stories and be emboldened by the realisation they are not alone, but McDonalds can’t seem to utilise technology to ensure there is always a route to complain about these things? Especially internally, and that more senior managers will hear the complaints and act on them firmly.

McDonalds Sexual Assault – What can they do to stop the harassment in it’s workforce?

McDonalds, as a global business, should have an easy to use, mobile enabled, encrypted and anonymous whistleblowing system that can direct reports straight to a central team. That central team should then investigate reports, backed by CCTV footage, and hopefully witness reports to support the person reporting. Hopefully with swift and decisive action, the complainant should feel confident enough to come forward to report in person.

Why Wasn’t it Handled properly by McDonalds?

Obviously we are commenting without being inside the company but from industry trends we have seen;

  • Staff don’t trust internal whistleblowing systems
  • 41% of workers witness workplace wrongdoing but do not go on to report it
  • 60% of whistleblowing reports that are made relate to management misbehaviour
  • The complainant feels a lack of control because of their junior status
  • 1 in 5 whistleblowers are subjected to retaliation
  • Studies show that between 30 to 40% of businesses actively discourage whistleblowing

How do you encourage whistleblowing?

The first thing is corporate culture. And this starts at the top. It will be interesting to see what the response is by McDonalds from the senior Corporate team because that will set a tone throughout the company. Immediately, they should be on the front foot to control the fallout and negative press. The story is running at a UK national level and will spread internationally with no doubt. Here is what the C-Suite should be doing.

  1. Immediately release a statement saying they are supporting all complainants – and actually do support them.
  2. Employ counselling services where it is requested and offer it to the complainants.
  3. Cause a thorough investigation into every report – and do it at pace.
  4. Cause significant discipline for anyone caught using abusive practices to others in the workplace. This includes immediate dismissal. Especially if they are managers.
  5. Involve the Police if the complainant wants that to happen and the incident is criminal.
  6. Cause an immediate review of the Whistleblowing policy, HR policy for supporting complainants and internal communication of those policies.
  7. Ensure the software they use is fit for purpose, allows anonymous reporting and is encrypted.
  8. Immediately state internally an investigation is commencing and anyone who feels they have been abused or bullied in any way while at work can come forward either in person or anonymously.
  9. State in internal communications that the company will deal swiftly with anyone caught abusing others in the workplace and that abusive behaviour will not be tolerated.
  10. Put in place more robust HR policies that are easy to understand and clearly supportive of whistleblowing.
  11. State in policy the likely sanction for breaches of appropriate behaviour towards staff especially if the perpetrator is at leadership level.
  12. Cause additional leadership training to ensure they know the route and process to adopt for future complaints.

Can McDonalds recover it’s family orientated culture?

The short answer is yes it can. But only if it ensures the 12 point plan above is acted upon swiftly, the PR machine kicks in to change the narrative and the company actually changes its culture, driven from the very top.

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