Navigation path

McDonald's Europe Ltd. (worldwide): "European Women's Leadership Network"

Company Description


McDonald's Europe Ltd.


Quick Service Industry



Company size:

40 countries in Europe, 7.100 Restaurants,
415.000 employees


Contact person


Christiane Woerle
External Communications McDonald’s Germany
+49 (0) 89 785 94-315

Project Description

Key Facts

Project Title:

"European Women's Leadership Network"
(Title of global network: " Global Women's Initiative")

Start of activities:

2008 in Europe
(Global Women's Initiative was established in 2006)

End of activities:


McDonald's Europe Ltd. is the European arm of the world-wide chain of the McDonald's Quick Service Industry. It has a turnover of nearly $11 billion and more than 400,000 employees.

Main goal

McDonald’s aims to create a culture and environment in which women have the opportunity to succeed and grow in order to produce the best results. As part of this goal, in 2009 the company created a still ongoing project titled the "European Women's Leadership Network".

Group of employees in focus

All female employees are the target – there is no focus on restaurants.

Initial situation

The Company has for some time foreseen a severe skill shortage arising in the future from demographic changes and from a shift to a more service- and knowledge-orientated economy. Moreover, research shows that mixed teams create better outcomes for the customer than male-only or female-only teams.

In 2006, McDonald’s started the Global Women's Initiative as part of a response to these challenges with regional initiatives (Asia- Pacific, Middle East, Europe, Canada, North and Latin America) that take account of the specific situation of women in each region.

Project goals

To produce the best results, McDonald'saims to attract more female talent into the company, to promote the recruiment, development and advancement of women and to create a work atmosphere andframeworkthat fosters the successful development of women at all levels within the company. This means creating and nurturing a culture that gives women the opportunity to succeed and grow.

Project activities

As starting points to enhance development of women, activities can be divided broadly into cultural, personal, structural and networking activities.

Corporate culture

Management's support and continuous involvement needed to be obtained. Role models were identified and promoted, while support was given to a corporate language that avoids traditional stereotypes, for example in documents and on the intra- and internet.


The company started to offer mentoring programmes for talented young female staff, has organised seminars to improve skills such as public speaking, and has launched individual coaching sessions to address individual challenges.

Structural changes

The project has had an impact on many aspects of staff policy: from recruitment to all manner of workplace practices.

  • The company has made its recruiting process gender neutral.
  • Meetings and conferences are now timed to be family-friendly.
  • The company provides viable childcare solutions.
  • Job-sharing models and flexible worktime and workplace options are available.
  • McDonald's has developed systematic succession planning down to a certain level.


A Conference of the European Women’s Leadership Network is held every 18 months including panel discussions, workshops and informal networking.

Local activities in each participating European country include meetings, lectures, workshops and the exchange of good practices.


The proportion of women restaurant managers in Europe rose from 45% to 52% between 2006 and 2009 and there has also been a rise in the number of potential female candidates for vacant management positions.

McDonald’s had 12 female Managing Directors in 2012, up from just one in 2000.

Challenges encountered during the project

The degree of integration of women into the workforce varies widely from country to country. The challenge is different in each country. This also means there are no fixed or common parameters for measuring progress in gender diversity within McDonald’s Europe.

Because it is a long-term goal, keeping gender diversity on the agenda is hard. There is constant competition from more immediate short-term goals.

Finding the time to pursue the project was a challenge, above all for the women involved on project steering committees who were obliged to do this in addition to their regular job. McDonald’s Europe has no exclusive diversity positions, though we do have a Global VP for Diversity.

Lessons learned

Cultural change in a company can only happen if it is supported by all employees, especially by male colleagues who need to be involved in the project.

Equally, management support is essential. Middle management support depends on linking the goal of better access to the female talent pool with strong monitoring of progress of the project. This requires the establishment of generally-agreed metrics.


For the Global Women's Initiative, McDonald's Corporation won the Catalyst Award in 2011.


back to women mean business


Equality Pays Off Update

picture of the Equality Pays Off UpdateKeep up to date on issues realting to the "Equalty Pays Off" initiative. Read the Update and subscribe to it.


Discover more about the current situation of gender equality in the labour market of your country.