McDonald’s shows how to manage a CEO crisis

Nevertheless, shareholders should be reassured that the company’s board made the right decision in a difficult situation, demonstrating that these kinds of violations will not be tolerated at any level. That sets a tone of accountability and fairness for the whole organization that could prove essential in fostering a healthy corporate culture.

Given that McDonald’s has recently faced allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination in some of its restaurants, it was an especially important moment for the board to show itself to be responsive. The board also appears to have handled this swiftly and decisively, voting for Easterbrook’s termination on Friday and announcing new leadership by Sunday.

Former McDonald’s chief executive Steve Easterbrook.Credit:AP

And Kempczinski is a safe and logical choice. He has been a key lieutenant of Easterbrook from his perch running the US business, so he’s familiar with the slate of long-term initiatives the company has in place to keep taking market share. He told the Wall Street Journal in an interview, “There isn’t going to be some radical, strategic shift. The plan is working.”

As Sara Senatore, restaurant analyst at Bernstein, points out, the head of the company’s US business has often been considered the heir apparent for the top job at McDonald’s. So this is an instance of the company working from a tested succession playbook – one that should help it move on quickly from an unfortunate episode.


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