McDonalds Sign

McDonald’s Chief Executive Steve Easterbrook Fired Over Relationship With Colleague

Fast food giant McDonald’s has fired its Chief Executive Steve Easterbrook following revelations of an affair with one of his colleagues, with the successful businessman admitting that he had made a ‘mistake’ regarding his conduct.

Despite both parties consenting to the relationship, the company deemed that Mr. Easterbrook had violated their company policy. It has been disclosed that he is likely to receive around 26 weeks pay against an estimated $16m annual salary and additional bonuses could see him pocketing somewhere in the region of $35m. As part of the exit arrangement, Mr. Easterbrook is not permitted to work for a competitor for a minimum of two years.

News of his departure was circulated to McDonald’s staff via an email in which the 52 year old admitted that he had made a mistake with regards to his conduct. The personally written email also said that he agreed with the board and that it was ‘time to move on’.

British-born Mr. Easterbrook first began working for the company back in 1993, taking up the position of manager in London. After working his way through the ranks, he left in 2011 to head up the popular restaurant chain Pizza Express, before moving on to Japanese restaurant chain Wagamama. However, in 2013, he returned to McDonalds to undertake the position of Head of UK and Northern Europe before becoming Chief Executive in 2015.

Mr. Easterbrook stepped down after the board voted on the matter, also relinquishing his roles as president and member of the board. Their view is that the company has long upheld rules regarding conflict of interest which were clearly ignored by Mr. Easterbrook when he decided to embark on a relationship with a fellow colleague. He was immediately replaced by McDonald’s USA president Chris Kempczinski.

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Many companies have such rules in place regarding relationships or at the very least require parties to disclose any romantic relationships that are occurring within the workplace. Experts say that the main driving factor is to avoid litigation caused by disgruntled partners if the relationship ends badly.

Observing the story unfolding, successful businesswoman and relationship expert Stephanie Tumba, author of ‘100 Dates and a Wedding’ commented:

“When you think how difficult it is to find love nowadays and that 1 in 5 couples meet at work, my view is that this decision was perhaps a little harsh and old-fashioned. Bear in mind that Bill Gates met his wife in the working environment, this stuff happens all the time. People shouldn’t lose their jobs and livelihoods over it.

Today, we live in a much freer world, a far cry from William Shakespeare’s forbidden love stories. Over the years, many taboos surrounding love and relationships have been lifted in most industrialised countries, and it would be naive to think that relationships are not blossoming between colleagues on a daily basis.

Embarking on a romantic relationship within the workplace means maintaining discretion and etiquette as a given. However, I think that sanctioning against such relationships can no longer be the default position. Employers should invite the employees to discuss this situation and then decide how to best deal with it. Whether it’s making them work in different departments and/or legally framing the situation.

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Of course, one can understand that an employer would be concerned that the behaviour of the couple could cause reputational damage to the organisation and create tensions between individuals, teams or departments. Even more so when one of the parties is in a prominent leadership position.

Whilst it is essential that a certain level of conduct is maintained in the working environment, I do not think that organisations can continue to contractually prevent people from nurturing romantic relationships with their colleagues.

Naturally, some inter-work relationships have ended badly. The relationship between President Bill Clinton and his intern Monica Lewinsky lasted for over 18 months and almost led to him losing his job. Several other politicians have found themselves in similar circumstances, all having potentially damaging implications for both the individual and the organisation, country or party they represent.

However, Stephanie’s comments appear to be mirrored in a growing number of people who appear to have no problem with an office romance. A recent survey revealed that 75% of those questioned believed that romantic relationships at work were not problematic. This view was also supported by research which reveals that over 30% of office romances lead to marriage.

In fact, Barack and Michelle Obama first met at a Chicago law firm, after Michelle was given the task of mentoring the firm’s new summer intern, Barack. Despite rejecting his advances at first, over fear that the only two African-Americans in the office dating would appear ‘tacky’, she eventually relented, getting married just four years later.

Job Interview

How To Talk About Getting Fired In An Interview

Getting fired from a job is never fun. Whether it’s simply due to the fact that your position/department was eliminated, or maybe you had quite the disagreement with your boss, either way it’s time to move on and start job hunting. 

Regardless of the reasoning behind your separation from your previous employer, there’s no going around the fact that you were asked to no longer work there and you didn’t have a say in the matter. This doesn’t mean that your career is finished, simply that it’s time for another chapter. In order to begin writing this new chapter, you’re going to need to interview, and the reasoning for leaving your previous job is most likely going to come up. 

So how do you talk about something with such an aggressive connotation in a matter that’s professional, and show that it was merely a bump in the road, not the end of the trip?

It’s all about the delivery when it comes to discussing termination from previous employment in an interview. You should be honest while also keeping it simple and commendable. 

“You don’t want to make the separation a liability that a hiring manager will be taking on,” said Roy Cohen, a career coach, in an interview with CNN.

Cohen also claims the first step to a successful interview post-termination, is acceptance. Much like the grieving process after a break up, this first step makes you reflect on why things ended how they did, understand the areas of personal improvement you need to make, accept them, and apply them. Acceptance of one’s own flaws can always be hard to come to terms with, as it involves admitting what we did was wrong, however, if you allow yourself to accept, understand, and grow from these wrongs, it’ll benefit you in your next path. 

Once you come to terms with the reasoning, you can better prepare yourself for the interview. You should anticipate that the termination will come up. Sometimes, you’ll get lucky and they won’t ask, but more times than not it will be brought up. 

Maintain your professionalism and don’t look like you’re uncomfortable. As mentioned previously, it’s all about the delivery. Keeping it short and simple is the best way to take a certain level of responsibility while also showing that you’re a different and more developed individual because of the experience and, if anything, it made you a harder worker. 

See how simple and clean that last sentence was? That’s what you’re going for. The language wasn’t complex, and the overall statement remained positive. Even if there are negative connotations and reasoning surrounding the termination, you can still remain confident and keep the conversation moving, don’t allow it to dwell. 

Some tips from Cohen on how to better accomplish this type of discussion in the interview process includes avoiding language that’s heavy, such as “termination” or “fired”.  Instead, he suggests using terms like “separated” “an involuntary reduction in workforce,” “my position was eliminated.” All of these mean the same exact thing, but allow for a much smoother delivery and show your potential future boss that even in the worst of situations you maintain your poise and don’t point fingers. 

Talking about former employers should always be avoided unless it’s in a positive matter. Don’t blame or talk poorly about past bosses, that just shows potential employers you don’t accept responsibility and have an issue with maintaining healthy relationships with authority. Employers are looking for employees that will contribute positively to the entire work environment, whatever that may be. 

“Explain what you learned from the experience and then get back on topic and talk about the value you could offer based on your competencies, what was in the job posting and what makes you a great candidate. Give some measurable accomplishments” said Wanda Kiser, president and CEO of Elite Resume Writing Services. (CNN)

Kiser is touching on an important note on how to keep the interview moving forward. You discuss the separation as a learning experience. Maybe the position wasn’t the right fit for you and because of that you were able to better understand what kind of job you want, and where your skills would be useful. Then mention you’ve applied that to your job hunt, by only interviewing with companies/positions you feel passionate about. This will show employers you have you taken a certain level of responsibility, were able to learn something, and feel passionately about this potential position.   

While you may not have had all the tools that your previous employer was looking for, that separation allowed you to better understand the tools/skills you DO have. Don’t be afraid to talk highly of yourself and the skills you have. Just because one door slammed in your face, doesn’t mean you forgot how to open another one.