McDonald’s Could Reach Its Diversity Targets Faster If It Had the Right Data on Hand

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As we move into the second quarter of 2021, more and more companies are working toward greater levels of gender parity in their leadership ranks. While this is a noble endeavor, good intentions without results are as bad as — or worse than — doing nothing at all. The many repeated commitments to progress are encouraging at a glance, but how many will turn out to be token gestures leading to little real change?

If we want to see more gender equality in the coming years, we need to start with an abundant supply of real-world data. I’m not talking about limited metrics that are only tallied once a year; I mean comprehensive data that is accurate and available at the exact moments key decisions are being made.

How McDonald’s Could Reach Gender Parity Faster

Let’s look at a practical example here. McDonald’s has announced a goal of reaching gender parity in all leadership roles by the year 2030. This certainly sounds both forward-thinking and ambitious, but one might ask whether it is ambitious enough.

If we assume that McDonald’s corporate-level leadership is currently 100 percent men and that the annual turnover rate is 10 percent (which is lower than the average ), it should still take only about five years for McDonald’s to meet its goal. The fact that the company’s projected timeline is almost double this may suggest that McDonald’s leadership is taking additional factors into account.

Is it possible that McDonald’s is concerned with finding suitable female leaders? Maybe turnover is very low in the McDonald’s corporate sphere? It’s difficult to say, and to be fair, the company’s own statement says it is looking to reach a 45/55 balance of women/men by 2025, allowing the following five years for the remaining 10 percent balance. Still, I feel this could be improved.

This issue is in no way limited to McDonald’s, of course. Research we’ve conducted at uFlexReward has found that a full 90 percent of firms currently do not have any real-time recordkeeping platform, at least as it pertains to rewards distribution. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. If highly accurate data concerning their current rewards landscape, updated daily, were available to recruiters and CEOs, they would have access to the latest numbers on employee compensation at any time. Key decisions about how to redistribute resources and what to look for in new hires could be informed by the actual data, rather than rough estimates and gut feelings. Companies could course-correct far more quickly, as numbers would be compiled regularly rather than once a year.

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Each new hire or promotion could be based on the relative distribution of equal pay across the entire company. While position and productivity would still be relevant, companies could avoid a situation in which certain demographics of employees are consistently overlooked for fair compensation. If the public has access to these numbers too, it will put (good) pressure on leaders to uphold these standards in the future.

Real-Time Diversity Data = Real Results

If you implement a system that consolidates your rewards data in one place, you can present recruiters with relevant gender and ethnicity data before hiring decisions are made. That allows recruiters to see whether the organization is meeting its gender or ethnicity targets and shift strategies as needed.

Essentially, you need to have the right systems and information in place and readily accessible so that people can make good decisions. Otherwise, they’ll continue doing the same old things — which is how a company ends up falling short of gender parity goals in the first place. To make real progress when it comes to diversity, you have to put real-time data on people’s desks rather than presenting historical data once a year, or things will never change. Because all of the data is updated daily, there’s no hiding behind vague promises or distant deadlines. A company committed to change will be able to demonstrate improvement on a regular basis, and bad actors will have nowhere to hide.

Real-time data is a necessity if industries are actually committed to social change. Leaders cannot make informed decisions without data that reflects the conditions in the real world.

Recruiters and candidates are in a hugely influential position here. They can show a clear preference for working for companies that have invested in real-time pay equity technology and encourage their employers to adopt this technology. This pressure will go a long way in getting reluctant company leaders on board.

Decades of incremental improvements clearly haven’t been enough. Employees are demanding accountability and real progress. Empty gestures simply won’t cut it anymore, and we believe data is the key to real change. Real-time data can help companies reach their goals on a notably faster timeline than most current roadmaps are ambitious enough to attempt.

Will it be enough to get McDonald’s to its goal before 2030? Only time will tell.

Ken Charman is CEO of uFlexReward.

By Ken Charman