The UK boss of McDonald’s has appointed a new unit to crack down on sexual harassment and bullying after admitting the business has “fallen short”.
Alistair Macrow said the investigation handling unit will able to refer cases to specialist investigators.
It comes after more than 100 past and present workers at the fast food chain said they were sexually harassed or assaulted or subjected to racism or bullying.
“The allegations I have heard this week are personally and professionally shocking,” said Mr Macrow, UK and Ireland chief executive for McDonald’s.
“I would like to reiterate my unreserved apology to, and empathy with, all those affected in any way, and I commend their bravery in coming forward.
“We have clearly fallen short in some critical areas, and I am determined to root out any behaviour or conduct that falls below the high standards of respect, safety and inclusion we demand of everyone at McDonald’s as detailed in our global brand standards.”
Mr Macrow said the unit, run by HR and legal professionals, will be in place until at least the end of the year.
He said: “Any substantiated breaches of our code of conduct will be met with the most severe measures up to, and including, dismissal.”
He also promised to appoint external experts who can evaluate what happens when a member of staff complains about a colleague.
The BBC report contained allegations of complaints falling on deaf ears and not being escalated.
The outside experts will assess whether the way McDonald’s escalates issues is effective and accessible and how much employees understand it.
“I will make sure that everyone is in no doubt of my own unequivocal insistence on zero tolerance of harassment of any kind and to ensure our non-negotiable message of respect and inclusivity is heard clearly throughout our business,” Mr Macrow said.
Earlier this week, the BBC reported that a McDonalds worker in his late 30s asked to show a 17-year-old colleague his penis after calling her a racial slur.
Another 17-year-old girl said a senior McDonald’s manager grabbed her bottom and choked her.
In February, McDonald’s signed an agreement with the equality watchdog to improve how it handles sexual harassment allegations.
In 2019, the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union said it had spoken to 1,000 women who reported being subjected to sexual harassment and abuse while working at the chain.
By August Graham, PA Business Reporter