The UK chief executive of fast-food chain McDonald’s has told busineses they need to offer more flexible working practices to attract female employees.
Speaking at Women 1st’s 2012 Conference, Jill McDonald, who previously worked in senior roles at British Airways for 16 years, stressed the need for companies to develop female staff. McDonalds has a programme for junior and middle managers, including mentoring and training courses.
McDonald said: “Employers need to be more flexible in terms of how they get women into the workplace. Some jobs are not part-time but lots of jobs can be done part-time or through re-allocation.”
The company’s £36 million training and development budget would “truly be the last budget we would cut”, she maintained.
McDonald’s will continue to invest in its female workforce and promoting women to senior levels. She added: “Training is sacrosanct.There is more work to do.”
Only two of McDonald’s’ 12-strong board are women. “I want to increase that,” she said.
When asked about the recent appointment of Thomas Cook’s first female chief executive Harriet Green, due to start next month, she added: “When I got this job I was surprised by the signal it sent out, largely within the business, but it demonstrated women are capable of doing the top jobs.”
McDonald told delegates her career had taught her several key lessons in business leadership, including being aware of your own strengths and weaknesses; being emotionally resilient; and volunteeering to do jobs outside your remit to get yourself “known”.
During her time at BA, McDonald said a decision to step down from a UK-based role to work in Hong Kong as sales and marketing manager for the far east for two years was one of the best decisions she ever made.
She said: “I then had global, local and regional experience. No-one at BA had that blend of experience; it set me up for my career. I would encourage you to look out for opportunities that are not necessarily to progress your job. Good leaders will be looking at your skills and experience not just how quickly you have progressed through the organisational structure.”
McDonald joined the fast-food giant six years ago after starting her career at Colgate Palmolive after a degree at the University of Brighton. At school, she had to re-take some of her ‘O’ Levels after a “less than glowing performance”. “I wasn’t an intellectual,” she said, “I am someone who has to work hard. I am not someone who can cruise through life.”
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