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McDonald’s new push for gender balance, diversity


March is Women’s History Month. Celebrating women’s success stories, leadership, and advocacy. One of those success stories is Kiana Webb, CEO of Webb Family Enterprises. The California native, grew up with parents who have been McDonald’s franchise owners since 1985.

“It’s really a blessing,” Webb said,” to own a successful business, with people who want to be successful.”

At this point, Webb Family Enterprises owns 16 franchises throughout Southern California. At the age of 27, Webb purchased her first franchise from her parents.

The philanthropist has obtained a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of San Francisco, and a master’s degree in organizational leadership from the Grand Canyon University. Currently, Webb serves as the chapter president of the Black McDonald’s Owners Association (BMOA) of Southern California, vice president of The National Black McDonald’s Owners Association, and represents women nationally on the McDonald’s leadership council. She is a Board member of Casa Colina Hospital and Centers for Healthcare, and the Child Development Center in Pomona.

“My Great Grandmother—who was born in 1904—always gave much, even when she had little,” Webb said. “Giving back to the community, is part of who we are.”

But the mother of three isn’t just the CEO of a successful family enterprises. First and foremost, she’s an advocate for improving the lives of women, children, and people of color, through community leadership roles. Webb believes, in giving back to the community and making the lives of many young adults better, by offering new opportunities.

“We work with young people all the time,” Webb said, “who look to become entrepreneurs. We are growing with people […]. Our desire is to change the outcome for African-Americans.”

Known for their golden arches, juicy burgers and crispy fries, McDonald’s Corporation is the world’s leading global food service retailer, with over 37,000 locations. Recently, McDonald’s announced the launch of its “Better Together: Gender Balance & Diversity” strategy. By 2023, the company aims to improve the representation of women at all levels of McDonald’s, achieve gender equality in career advancement, and champion the impact of women on the business. In addition, McDonald’s has signed the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles to further mark the company’s commitment to progress.

“Gender balance and diversity makes McDonald’s stronger,” said David Fairhurst, McDonald’s Chief People officer. “Together with our franchises, McDonald provides jobs for almost 2 million people across the world, and is one of the world’s largest employers of women. We’re committed to inspiring workplaces where everyone—from crew to c-suite—is equally supported and empowered to realize their full potential. Our new strategy will help deliver this commitment and is designed to ensure that we’re clearly defining and hitting our targets, day-in and day-out. “

McDonald’s will advance education, and development programs to support women to progress, with its new initiative, “Archways to Opportunity.” This initiative will help, enable women from company-owned restaurants, and participating franchisee restaurants to learn skills in areas such as data science, cyber security, artificial intelligence, and more. The goal of this initiative is to support broader representation of women in technology fields and support employees on their path to success—at McDonald’s and beyond.

This program will start in the U.S. this spring with the goal of rolling it out to more countries in the future. McDonald’s will work with Microsoft to provide the technical skills curriculum and Colorado Technical University to deliver access to learning. This initiative will offer U.S. participants college credits, a credential upon completion and help them build a foundation for lifelong learning, that’s necessary to compete in this 21st century economy. At Webb’s franchises, their focus is the next generation.

“We really focus on the youth,” Webb said. “Creating more opportunities for [young] people of color, and making the community stronger.”

Currently, 30 percent of McDonald’s officer positions and 41 percent of staff positions at director level and above are held by women globally, and in the U.S., 60 percent of all restaurant managers are women. McDonald’s will take key actions to further improve representation. The progression include: using gender neutral job descriptions in English speaking countries for office and restaurant roles, increasing diverse candidate slates and interview panels, as well as investing in tools that use artificial intelligence to recognize, and root out bias from the selection process. McDonald’s will also review its high-potential talent pools to promote gender balance, and accelerate their careers through executive mentoring, and sponsorship.

To mark the launch with a statement of support for workplace inclusion, McDonald’s CEO, Steve Easterbrook and other senior leaders across the business took to LinkedIn – the world’s largest job site. By switching their profile pictures for the McDonald’s arches turned upside down, the leaders aim to raise awareness of unconscious bias and the importance of mitigating it.

Having reached more than 10,000 employees with bias awareness training, McDonald’s is committed to its continued global roll out, and integrating the training into existing education platforms, talent management processes, leadership development, and training for talent agency partners.

To become an entrepreneur might look hard, but successful people are often there to guide an easier path. Like Kiana Webb, who believes, challenges are there to push to be successful.

“Stop looking to fit in,” Webb said, “when you’re meant to stand out.”