What’s new and different about our just released 2011 Sustainability Scorecard? Where is McDonald’s headed on our sustainability journey? The answer s to these questions start with the title you see on the front cover– “Sustainability Scorecard.” We’ve evolved from referring to our efforts under the term “Corporate Responsibility” to using “sustainability” as a way to define our holistic approach to creating shared value for our company and society.
We’re also looking at how we measure progress – or in some cases, where there’s still more to do – in ever more tangible and impactful ways. Keeping our own “score” means gauging success based on how McDonald’s is moving forward together as an aligned global company – setting goals that matter to our stakeholders and maintaining a commitment to continuously improving our social and environmental performance in key focus areas. And at the end of the day, we all want to continue mainstreaming sustainability in our business operations and in the minds of our consumers.
I discussed McDonald’s ambition to “mainstream sustainability” at length with Marc Gunther, who posted a blog (LINK) on his impressions of our efforts today. He put a question mark at the end of the title, “McDonald’s: Mainstreaming Sustainability?” I’m in tune with his “question” and here’s why: the journey is full of immense challenges.
Consider the McDonald’s system – Over 33,000 restaurants in 119 different countries, 85% of which are owned and operated by 5600 independent franchisees. Along with those franchisees, we have 1.7 million employees and a host of direct and indirect suppliers who help us bring products from farm to front counter, serving to 64 million customers each day.
The “we” is a collective “we,” and together, we are making progress, but reaching the point of mainstreaming sustainability is a long and sometimes daunting endeavor. We are not there yet, but we’re committed to continuing the journey.
In my view, the sustainability movement is at a crossroads. Traditionally, this movement has been more of a niche issue, driven more by small and elite set of influencers. That is not sustainability. Rather, sustainability should be for the masses, a natural part of daily life, with products and services incorporating sustainable thinking, in a similar way to how we think about quality and functionality.
When our leadership convened earlier this year to assess where we are and where we need to go with our efforts on CSR and sustainability, we saw that both our priority areas and relative impacts are quite similar to other companies, especially retailers. For example, virtually every company we benchmarked with had environmental pillars of waste, energy and sourcing.
So, we have to ask ourselves, “What is the unique value that McDonald’s can bring to the sustainability table?” It is the aspiration to make sustainability mainstream. Who else serves 64 million people a day? What other company needs to garner the support and advocacy of 5600 independent owner-operators in the process of progressing against our sustainability goals. Who else can influence the food supply chain like we can? So, the very nature of who we are as a business makes this aspiration quite natural for McDonald’s.
Within our company, we are definitely changing and evolving our view of what it means to be a socially responsible company. The old view is CSR. It’s time to bid that view farewell.
We first framed our work under the CSR umbrella more than a decade ago. It has served us well, with notable progress and a genuine track record of doing the right thing related to our food, our people, and our impacts on the environment and the community, as well as the sustainability of our supply chain. However, the future is different. We need to continue building on a culture of doing the right thing, but we need to change the way we bring that to life. It’s always been about living our values, and I’m proud of that. Now we will transform to CSR-plus, and that is how we are defining “Sustainability” at McDonald’s.
Sustainability for McDonald’s means we are going to use our size, scope and talent to make a positive difference for children, families and communities around the world. We are going to focus on the intersection of who we are as a business and where we are as a society. And doing so will not only create value for society, but it will bring value to McDonald’s.
Our 2011 Sustainability Scorecard has tangible examples of this new approach. The bold announcements we made in 2011 related to nutrition and sustainable supply chain demonstrate where we are taking action, setting goals, and committed to measuring progress. More of that to come.
Let me know your thoughts on how we can do more to achieve our vision of McDonald’s mainstreaming sustainability.