This article was originally sent via email from CEO Chris Kempczinski to McDonald’s employees and franchisees.
March 8, 2022 – The conflict in Ukraine and the humanitarian crisis in Europe has caused unspeakable suffering to innocent people. As a System, we join the world in condemning aggression and violence and praying for peace.
Our number one priority from the start of this crisis has been – and will remain – our people.
As Ian Borden shared last week, the Company has provided immediate financial support to our team in Ukraine. We are continuing to pay full salaries for our Ukrainian employees and have donated $5 million to our Employee Assistance Fund, and continue to support relief efforts led by the International Red Cross in the region. We have been overwhelmed by the offers of support across the System and thank you for your generous contributions to date.
As many of our colleagues in Ukraine have sought refuge, they have found the familiar support of the McDonald’s System in new and unfamiliar places. In Poland and many other markets across Europe, our System has literally opened their homes, their hearts, and their restaurants. The Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Poland Care Mobile is at the Polish-Ukrainian border to provide medical care and humanitarian aid for families and children, and another Care Mobile is on the way from RMHC Latvia. Additionally, RMHC Ukraine is deploying medical supplies and providing humanitarian aid throughout the country, and its programs are being repurposed for use by hospital personnel.
This support, enabled by our global System, is happening across Europe, and will continue to grow.
In recent days, I have spoken with and heard from many in our System about our operations in Russia. The situation is extraordinarily challenging for a global brand like ours, and there are many considerations. For 66 years, we have operated with the belief that communities are made better when there’s a McDonald’s nearby.
In Russia, we employ 62,000 people who have poured their heart and soul into our McDonald’s brand to serve their communities. We work with hundreds of local, Russian suppliers and partners who produce the food for our menu and support our brand. And we serve millions of Russian customers each day who count on McDonald’s. In the thirty-plus years that McDonald’s has operated in Russia, we’ve become an essential part of the 850 communities in which we operate.
At the same time, our values mean we cannot ignore the needless human suffering unfolding in Ukraine. Years ago, when confronted with his own difficult decision, Fred Turner explained his approach quite simply: “Do the right thing.” That philosophy is enshrined as one of our five guiding values, and there are countless examples over the years of McDonald’s Corporation living up to Fred’s simple ideal. Today, is also one of those days.
Working closely in consultation with our Chairman, Rick Hernandez, and the rest of McDonald’s Board of Directors over the last week, McDonald’s has decided to temporarily close all our restaurants in Russia and pause all operations in the market. We understand the impact this will have on our Russian colleagues and partners, which is why we are prepared to support all three legs of the stool in Ukraine and Russia. This includes salary continuation for all McDonald’s employees in Russia.
Importantly, RMHC Russia will continue its full operations, just as RMHC Ukraine is partnering with local hospitals and providing humanitarian aid throughout the country.
Across the rest of Europe, we will stay focused on how McDonald’s can best help those in need, both now and in the future. We have already seen extraordinary leadership by our Ukrainian and Russian teams, and I know the rest of the McDonald’s System stands ready to support the large number of refugees who have been displaced by this conflict.
As we move forward, McDonald’s will continue to assess the situation and determine if any additional measures are required. At this juncture, it’s impossible to predict when we might be able to reopen our restaurants in Russia. We are experiencing disruptions to our supply chain along with other operational impacts. We will also closely monitor the humanitarian situation.
As always, McDonald’s will be guided by our values and our purpose to feed and foster communities across the globe.