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Corporate Social Responsibility at McDonald’s – Part 3

Case Study: Issues Related to Corporate Social Responsibility of McDonald’s

The role of the McDonald’s as the socially responsible organization is facing issues concerning to the product safety, workplace safety, employees’ opportunities and training, diversity, environment and sustainable supply chain initiatives (Kotler& Lee, 2005, p.54).   The issues demonstrated as follows are significant to the CSR practice of McDonald’s.

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a. Environmental Degradation and Land Use

The McDonald’s is considered as one of the world’s most ethical companies however, in the past years, the company is continually questioned about its responsible utilization of the resources ranging from paper and animals products and farm production that relates to the environmental degradation and land use issues (Macdonald& Sirianni, 1996, p.65).

McDonald’s is the largest user of beef of the world and the methane emitted by the cattle reared for the beef industry is the significant provider to the global warming crisis (Paetzold, 2010, p.87).  The feeding, housing, transportation and slaughtering of the farm animals are within the animals’ welfare policy of the company. The company has been the center of visible debate about its ineffective operating policy and its position concerning the issues of welfare of the animals as the factory farms of the company destroy the environment and waste resources.

Forest around the world is vital for the life of all however, it is being destroyed at the awful rate by the company and McDonald’s has admitted using the beef reared on the ex-rainforest land as well as preventing the regeneration of the forest (Mullerat& Brennan, 2010, p.77).  The utilization of the farmland by the company and their suppliers forced the local people to move on other areas and cut furthermore trees for their living.  Moreover, the heavy utilization of the chemicals by the company has played a major role in destroying wildlife, plants, and the soil.  Annually the McDonald’s utilizes over a million tons of the unessential plastic and paper packaging. Most of the packaging of the company finishes-up littering the streets or polluting the land buried in the landfill sites (Tannock, 2001, p.87).

b. Nutrition, Diet, Health and Safety

The food processed by McDonald’s is highly interlinked to the serious diseases such as cancer, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes and these diseases are responsible for around three quarter of the premature deaths in the western world (Kotler& Lee, 2005, p.76). McDonald’s nutrition and health influences was questioned in 2002 when two American teenagers filed the lawsuit against the McDonald’s claimed that the company was responsible for their weight problems. The most publicized and broadly distributed charge on the company came in 2004 when the Morgan Spurlock released the motion picture aimed at demonstrating the documentary concerning the journey of man into the world of weight gain, health issues, and fast food problems (Macdonald& Sirianni, 1996, p.76).

The public charges provided charge that the products of the company is dangerous to the health and wellbeing of the human being that caused harmful effect on the reputation of the McDonald’s as well as exploited the growth of the company (May et al., 2007, p.87). The major attack on the McDonald’s came from the Greenpeace activist group in England in the pamphlet title“What’s Wrong with McDonald’s? What They Don’t Want You to Know” that significantly negatively influenced the reputation of the company as the information in the pamphlet concerning the type of food McDonald’s served and the heart diseases (Paetzold, 2010, p.98). Buy custom paper prepared by  assignment writer.

The‘McLibel’ lawsuit is also the serious challenge to the McDonald’s for providing the charge that was dangerous to the health of the consumers (Rendtorff, 2009, p.98).  In the 2003, a group of the obese American teenagers sued McDonald’s alleging that the corporation caused their obesity, diabetes, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol intake, cancer and other detrimental health effects (Werther& Chandler, 2010, p.88).

In 2004, the business news came for the McDonald’s when the congressional ruling banned lawsuits by the obese customers alleging that the company is responsible for their bad health conditions.  The reputation of the company has taken in the beating in the health and nutrition arena concerning the good corporate citizenship around the world (Werther& Chandler, 2010, p.90).

c. Corporate Structure

The huge and growing global environment and social crisis is completely the fault of the high profile burger chain and surely, the McDonald’s is simply the conceited, burnished, and self-important example of the system that values the profits at the expenses of environmental and social destructions.  The fundamental issue, which is more than the Big Macs and French fries of the company, is the capitalism (Macdonald& Sirianni, 1996, p.45). The boss and the senior management drives the corporate social responsibility, as it is subject to measures of the convenience within the organization.  The McDonald’s has faced numerous issues concerning to the mismanagement of the higher management that concerns the excessive utilization of water, energy and waste material for the manufacturing of their product to the earn profits (Mullerat& Brennan, 2010, p.76). 

The McDonald’s has faced the issues concerning their several competitor companies’ that made the company to reorganize their business as stronger business structure, as currently the company is only interested to earn revenue through their advertisements and food products (Tannock, 2001, p.77).  However, the anti-MacDonald’s protesters have created events such as Anti MacDonald’s day every year on October 16 to hit the stores of the McDonald’s in the London concerning against the capitalist perspectives of the company (Werther& Chandler, 2010, p.76).

d. Violation of Human Rights and Employees Discrimination

McDonald’s has been facing the issue of violation of human rights and employees discrimination in relation to its commitment with CSR. Despite being committed to provide safe and healthy working environment, McDonald’s has mainly been criticized and sued for violating the human rights and involved in employee discrimination (Friedman& Strickler, 2001). In this regard, it is found that McDonald’s was fined£12,400 for illegally employing child labor and imposing over-working in one of the restaurants of London. This is considered as one of the largest fines imposed on any international company for breaching the child-labor law while company in its code of conduct strictly prohibits child labor (Pollach, 2003). Similarly, the report about Toy industry in China: Undermining workers’ rights and rule of law has revealed that McDonald’s in China is one of those companies who force its employees for working 37 hours per week, paying low wages as only 59% of the local, giving unhygienic workplace, and providing no medical insurance (Erickson et al., 2009). Apart from the issues related to over- working hours and low wages, another important issue is the lack of workplace protection, as McDonald’s is one of those international companies in the world, where death of employees’ rate higher. As in 2005, in road accident, a driver and 18 years old boy died in Sanford, Florida whereas in another accident, an employee died during meat grinding (Parkinson& Parkinson, 2007). It is found that this type of accidents is very predictable at unsafe workplace environment provided of McDonald’s. In addition, employee discrimination is another considerable issue of McDonald’s business practice related to CSR. In US, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed employment discrimination lawsuits against McDonald’s for employing class of young boys employed at the restaurants of the company in Albuquerque. It is found that McDonald’s offers large employment vacancy than its competitor KFC, on the other hand, the business practice of the company exploits the unemployment by offering lower jobs with low wages (Mathis& Jackson, 2008, p.156).  

e. Malpractice of Advertisement and Marketing

It is found that McDonald’s spends about two million dollars every year on its advertisement (Schlosser, 2001) but the approach used by the company to advertise is mostly criticized. The company has found in advertisement malpractice, as the company mainly targets children through offering toys, advertising on television and promoting in schools (Rothacher, 2004). In this respect, it is found that McDonald’s manipulates to kids and young adults through its advertisement to eat and buy their unhealthy foods.  It is considerably found that foods and meals offered at McDonald’s are not healthy and in long run, they cause obesity in children. In addition, targeting children for such unhealthy food is ethically wrong because children do not realize their good and bad (O'Rourke, 2007). According to McGinnis et al.(2006), companies and manufacturers have ethical duties in which they are required complying with the benefits of society. In the case of McDonald’s, the company in one hand offers employment opportunities and society welfare programs, sponsorship and claiming to adopt ethical approach; on the other hand, it avoids its corporate social responsibility in relation to health and safety of children (Schlosser, 2001). In 2002, a lawsuit was filed against McDonald’s Corporation stating that company has employed non-ethical approach in advertising because advertising high processed food can cause obesity and other health related problems in children. The district judge in the response of the lawsuit stated that the company could not be blamed if consumers prefer to buy and eat food from the company. Company does employ standard code of advertisement in its all ads, but the sponsorship and charity programs, which are organized by the company for schoolchildren, are still question mark. It is argued that McDonald’s sponsors school events and other learning programs not as genuine charity but rather as publicity, which aims to gain maximum profit (Love, 1995).


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