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McDonalds Ushers in a Change of Leadership

Former CEO Steve Easterbrook was dismissed due to a taboo relationship.

A leader bids adieu


“It is not appropriate to show favoritism or make business decisions based on emotions or friendships rather than on the best interests of the company,” McDonalds policy states.


This policy is the reason why Easterbrook, who served as CEO of the organization for 4 years, was removed from his position after it was discovered that he had a consensual relationship with an existing employee.


Easterbrook will receive six months of severance pay, which comes out to roughly $675,000.


The familiar tale on repeat


Easterbrook’s story is just one more rung on the ladder of executive turnovers due to inappropriate relationships. In 2018, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich resigned after it was discovered he was engaging in a relationship with an employee.


This recurring issue brings the subject of business ethics repeatedly into public dialogue, particularly in the era of the “MeToo” movement. What may have one been acceptable, tolerated, or disregarded is being brought today to the forefront of public discourse.


Blurred lines are no longer being tolerated. Ethical relationships are a key ingredient in the creation of trust amongst employees and customers alike, and as such executives must bear in mind that they are not immune from accepted behaviors.


All employees must respect and accept the organizational code of conduct. This includes, and particularly applies, to the executives leading the way.


“It’s a sign of the times,” said Wendy Patrick, a business ethics lecturer at San Diego State University. “You’re under a microscope in a way today that you never were before, simply because our awareness has been raised as to the problems that could potentially cause.”


McDonalds hands over the reigns


Taking Easterbrook’s place is Chris Kempczinski, a Harvard MBA who isn’t exactly endeared by McDonalds franchisees. Formerly executive VP of Strategy and Business Development, Kempczinski is a relative outsider to the organization, having only joined in 2015. It’s yet to be seen whether his appointment will serve the organization well.