McDonald’s UK boss 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 management unit will be able to refer cases to specialized investigators.
It comes after more than 100 former and current 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, McDonald’s UK & Ireland chief executive.
“I would like to reiterate my unreserved apologies and empathy for everyone affected in any way, and I commend your courage in coming forward.
“We have clearly fallen short in some critical areas, and I am determined to eradicate any behavior or conduct that falls short of the high standards of respect, safety and inclusion that we hold of everyone at McDonald’s, as detailed in our global brand standards.”
Macrow said the unit, led by human resources and legal professionals, will be in operation until at least the end of the year.
He said: “Any proven breach of our code of conduct will be met with the most severe measures, including dismissal.”
He also promised to appoint outside experts who can assess what happens when a staff member complains about a colleague.
The BBC report contained allegations of complaints that fell on deaf ears and were not escalated.
Outside experts will assess whether McDonald’s escalation is effective and accessible, and how well it is understood by employees.
“I will ensure that no one has any doubts about my own unequivocal insistence on zero tolerance for bullying of any kind and ensure that our non-negotiable message of respect and inclusion is heard clearly throughout our business,” Macrow said.
Earlier this week, the BBC reported that a McDonalds worker in his 30s asked to show a 17-year-old female colleague his penis after calling it a racial slur.
Another 17-year-old girl said a senior McDonald’s manager grabbed her bottom and strangled her.
In February, McDonald’s signed an agreement with the equality watchdog to improve the way it handles complaints of sexual harassment.
In 2019, the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union said it had spoken to 1,000 women who reported being sexually harassed and abused while working at the chain.