Apr 13, 2023 - Economy

McDonald's beefs up its corporate affairs strategy

Illustration of a red carton of french fries with four golden pens scattered amongst the fries.

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

McDonald's is beefing up its impact team under global chief impact officer Jon Banner amid larger corporate restructuring.

Why it matters: Corporate impact efforts are often criticized for being performative, with too much talk and not enough action.

  • Yes, but: By bringing government relations, policy, communications, philanthropy and ESG under one global team, McDonald's hopes to put forth a unified strategy that can scale and drive impact.

Details: Banner will continue to oversee the global operation, while former chief communications officer Michael Gonda will manage impact across U.S. and Canadian markets.

  • Sandy Rodriguez will assume the role of chief communications officer, and Jenny McColloch will serve as chief sustainability and social impact officer overseeing McDonald's social impact agenda, such as its diversity, equity and inclusion strategy.

What they're saying: This is part of a broader plan to unite and accelerate the impact work across global markets and strengthen stakeholder management.

  • And this is most noticeable in the way McDonald's thinks and talks about its sustainability efforts.
  • "Reaching our net zero commitment by 2050 is a holistic effort, and it requires cross-functional collaboration [for us] to think as one McDonald's by establishing some norms in how we do things and how we measure things when it comes to sustainability and ESG," Banner told Axios.
  • "Food companies are dependent on the Earth to get our products to market whether that be beef, chicken, wheat or potatoes. We need a healthy planet to have a healthy business. So for us, it's somewhat material to our future operations."

The big picture: This comes at a time when McDonald's — which was slow to halt business in Russia following the invasion of Ukraine — will need to be proactive both at home and abroad amid growing geopolitical tensions, economic uncertainty, political polarization, and climate and labor battles in the U.S.

What we're watching: The impact model is an elevated approach to the traditional corporate affairs remit.

  • "I think, from my brief experience here, that it is a much better way to operate," Banner says.
  • "By having [these functions] under one roof you can very easily and quickly get the right information and set the right agenda to have the kind of impact you want to have for the business."

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