At McDonald’s, you can bring your whole self to work
When people can be themselves at work, they tell me they’ve never been more happy and more productive.
People should feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work. That's something I’m extremely passionate about, because it wasn’t that long ago I felt like I couldn’t.
I’ve been with McDonald’s since I was 16 years old – I started as a crew member in my home state of South Dakota. To date, the pinnacle of my McDonald’s career was winning the coveted President’s Award in 1993, when I was 30. Sadly, the celebration was bittersweet.
When my team surprised me with the news, many friends and colleagues were invited – but my partner, Randy, wasn’t. No one I worked with knew I had a partner, or that I was gay, because I wasn’t out at work. When it came time to attend the President’s Award Banquet, I took a very good female friend as my guest to avoid any questions about Randy and our relationship.
It was a very different time back then – long before McDonald's and many other companies had same-sex protection in their anti-discrimination policies. I’m proud to say that with patience and persistence, we’ve come a long way since then.
There was a time, for example, when McDonald’s employees were taxed more if they added a domestic partner to their health insurance, rather than a spouse.
I advocated for this to change – and despite the business being in a slump, McDonald’s leadership agreed to provide tax equalization and pay the difference for couples in domestic partnerships.
I think that says a lot about the culture of McDonald’s. We’ve had some pushback, but leadership has always done the right thing.
Now, I openly encourage people to bring their whole selves to work. What does that mean?
It means you’re able to have a picture of you and your partner as the background on your computer. It means you can talk about your family and life experiences like everyone else does, and not just tell generic stories.
It’s liberating. When people can be themselves at work, they tell me they’ve never been more happy and more productive.
I'm proud of all that McDonald’s has achieved in terms of LGBTQ+ equality. In 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019, McDonald’s scored a perfect 100 on the HRC corporate equality index. We sponsored the Chicago AIDS Walk & Run in 2019. Last year, we debuted our first float in the Chicago PRIDE parade, and we’ve engaged in local activations with LGBTQ organizations since our headquarters moved to Chicago.
I truly believe we’re showing many people in Chicago and around the world that McDonald’s is a great, inclusive company and a great place to work.