In an exclusive interview, Rajeev Ranjan, the Managing Director of McDonald’s India – North and East, delves into the insightful and transformative “McDonald’s for Youth” campaign. This initiative, at the heart of McDonald’s community engagement strategy, is not just about offering employment opportunities; it’s a testament to the brand’s commitment to empowering the young generation, especially those from less privileged backgrounds. Join us as we explore the depths of this campaign, its impact, and the future aspirations that McDonald’s India holds for the youth of the nation.
Kindly share insights, goals, and objectives about the McDonald’s for Youth campaign?
McDonald’s for Youth is our community connect initiative, driven by our core purpose of feeding and fostering communities. This program is dedicated to supporting young individuals, particularly those from less privileged segments of society, by providing gainful employment opportunities, thereby contributing to India’s growth story. Through collaborations with NGOs and a steadfast commitment to generating employment, McDonald’s India – North and East aspires to serve as a force for positive change, actively contributing to a more promising and vibrant future for India. Under this initiative, we aim to hire 2,000 people from underprivileged communities in the next 3 years through NGOs and like-minded organisations. We envision ourselves as a responsible organisation working with the communities and for the communities to fulfil a meaningful purpose
In which states and cities in India is this campaign presently active, and what are your expansion plans for its outreach?
We are expanding at a fast pace and currently operate in nearly 200 restaurants across North and East India. The McDonald’s for Youth initiative has especially proven impactful in tier-1 and tier-2 cities within our region of operations, eliciting positive responses across areas such as Delhi NCR, Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh, amongst others. This program has made a significant positive impact by providing a platform for young adults to acquire the necessary skills, knowledge, and experience, to kickstart their professional journey.
In line with our commitment to community development, we aim to broaden the program’s outreach to additional cities as we expand our footprints and enable young adults in local communities to benefit from the program.
What impact does this campaign have on the underprivileged youth of India?
McDonald’s as a brand has a legacy of shaping hospitality professionals, by instilling the right attitude, empathy, and passion through comprehensive training programs. For many individuals employed through the McDonald’s for Youth initiative, it signifies a noteworthy milestone in kickstarting their careers. Beyond being a source of income, through this program, these individuals also gain access to McDonald’s globally recognized, world-class high-quality training curriculum. This curriculum imparts crucial skills knowledge and attitude essentials to the thriving hospitality industry, covering areas such as food safety and hygiene practices, safe food handling, customer service, communication, and teamwork. These skills are important for achieving success and progress along their career journeys.
The impact of the program goes beyond the confines of the restaurants, enabling young adults to unleash their full potential, be good communicators, and gain confidence.
What strategies are you employing to connect with young individuals living in distant rural areas?
We are proactively connecting and forming partnerships at the grassroots level with the local as well as national level NGOs and like-minded organisations across North and East India. We are regularly organising employment drives under this initiative where our teams conduct pre-placement sessions with the beneficiaries, aiming to provide insights into what they can anticipate when working at a McDonald’s restaurant. Additionally, we are utilizing media and digital platforms to ensure extensive outreach to the beneficiaries. Through these initiatives, we have successfully connected with a broader audience, offering valuable employment opportunities to potential beneficiaries.
With this community initiative, we would like to encourage more like-minded organizations to join us in our commitment to empowering young people to create a niche for themselves in this industry.
Which age group is being most hired under this campaign?
McDonald’s for Youth is a community-focused initiative especially curated for young people. In the current highly competitive job market, young adults from less privileged backgrounds often face challenges in finding the right platform to initiate their careers or develop employable skills. We understand the challenge and aim to offer a significant boost for the youth to thrive, learn, and succeed in their professional journeys. Through providing meaningful employment, training, and developmental opportunities, our goal is to empower young individuals, enabling them to build successful and fulfilling careers.
How many young people have been employed till date and what is the strategy for the next three years?
As a part of our ongoing efforts, we have recruited more than 800 employees over the past one year. Going forward, we aim to hire 2000 people from non-governmental organizations and like-minded organisations by 2025. The initiative addresses the crucial issue of unemployment among young people by providing equal opportunities and improved job prospects.
Are you providing any skill training to the youngsters for this job? If yes, kindly elaborate
The skill training offered to individuals recruited through NGOs mirrors the training provided to all of our crew members. Our training program emphasizes on essential skills such as food safety, health and safety, security, customer service and hospitality, human relations skills, quality service and cleanliness standards, cash handling, and technological skills. Furthermore, comprehensive station training is provided, encompassing all kitchen (production) and service stations. This training aims to enhance competence in tasks related to storage, preparation, and serving our guests.
Which non-governmental organisations have you tied up with?
We have formed alliances with several like-minded organizations, including the Magic Bus Foundation, Tech Mahindra Foundation, Quess Corp Foundation, Tarraqi, and Anudip Foundation, amongst others. Through our collaboration with the Anudip Foundation, our Guwahati restaurant is the first restaurant in North and East India to have 100% crew members hired from an NGO. Similarly, our Shimla restaurant has its entire crew hired through our McDonald’s for youth initiative.
We are seeking partnerships with NGOs and like-minded organisations specifically in Delhi, Kolkata, Bhubaneshwar, Faridabad, Guwahati, Jammu, Haryana, Varanasi, Lucknow, Jaipur, Noida, Ghaziabad, Yamuna Naga, Solan, Ambala, Karnal, Zirakpur, Patna, Chandigarh, Shimla, Gurugram, Hissar, Kurukshetra, Panipat, Sirsa, Ardhkuwari, Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Dehradun, Bareilly, Prayagraj, Lucknow, Jodhpur currently and would encourage like-minded non-profit organizations to join us in strengthening our initiative.
Apart from McDonald’s for Youth, are there any other community initiatives?
McDonald’s India – North and East is dedicated to serving communities, prioritizing customers and employees. In addition to the McDonald’s for Youth campaign, we have been regularly engaging with our communities. In September 2023, marking our community month, we actively engaged in activities with the aim of making a positive impact on local communities across the nation.
To reach out to the young minds we organized the ‘Joy of Reading’ program, including a book donation drive to provide books to school-going children from less privileged background. The initiative was a success as we received overwhelming response from our community with numerous customers generously contributing across 20 locations.
We live by the philosophy of feeding and fostering communities and that is reflected in our business across all functions and at restaurant level. Recently, our team in Jasola (New Delhi) restaurant organised ‘a happy experience’ and invited kids from Deepalaya NGO. The McDonald’s staff hosted the kids, engaging them in several games such as Musical chairs, Passing the balloon, Dancing and Poem recital, creating a memorable experience. We are always looking forward to initiatives to put smiles on the faces of kids.
Please elaborate on any sustainability or environment friendly initiatives of McDonald’s in India?
At McDonald’s India – North and East, we place a strong emphasis on sustainability to promote the development of robust and resilient food systems. As an environmentally responsible brand, sustainability is at the center of everything we do across the value chain – be it reducing greenhouse gas, keeping waste out of nature or preserving natural resources. Our commitment to sustainable practices is demonstrated in various initiatives, including the adoption of renewable energy to reduce carbon footprint in our restaurants, water conservation throughout the value chain, and resource efficiency such as repurposing used cooking oil.
Moreover, we prioritize environmental responsibility by replacing single-use customer-facing plastic with sustainably sourced paper packaging and ensuring responsible ingredient sourcing. In our restaurants, we use FSC certified, paper-based packaging as the primary material replacement for plastic packaging. 100% of wood fiber for paper packaging used in restaurants comes from recycled sources or forests certified to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standard, a globally recognized standard for responsible forest management.
We are industry leaders in taking substantial steps to switch to sustainable packaging solutions and have shifted materials to 100% renewable, certified sources. Over the last 4-5 years, McDonald’s efforts in introducing sustainable solutions in guest packaging have resulted in an overall annual reduction of 15 metric tons of plastic annually.
Our commitment to responsible sourcing extends to supporting nature-positive supply chains, particularly by aiding the farmers who cultivate our ingredients. For instance, our coffee undergoes sustainable sourcing and holds certification from the Rainforest Alliance. This initiative helps coffee farmers enhance productivity through sustainable practices and improved farm management.
As a brand, we take pride in producing our renowned French Fries in a zero-water discharge facility in India, a measure that significantly reduces water consumption. Additionally, our Alaskan Pollock fish is responsibly sourced from the US, adhering to sustainable fishing protocols. Furthermore, 100% of the palm oil utilized in our establishments contributes to sustainable production and deforestation-free supply chains. This is achieved through Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) credits and Mass Balance certification.
We actively participate in sustainable oil management practices, repurposing used cooking oil into biofuel (biodiesel), which is known to have lower carbon emissions than conventional fuel. We have joined forces with FSSAI approved vendors to facilitate the collection and conversion of used cooking oil into biodiesel, which is used in trucks, furnaces, boilers etc.
Most recently, we commissioned Delhi’s (BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd) largest solar power plant in Najafgarh. This 3.2 MW plant with 4.2 million units’ capacity, is currently powering 24% of our restaurants in Delhi with renewable energy. We are planning to scale up our solar efforts in the near future, thereby supporting our country’s commitment to reducing emissions intensity on the way to a net-zero nation
In line with our eco-friendly initiatives, McDonald’s India – North and East collaborated with NueGo, the electric passenger coach service operated by GreenCell Mobility, with an aim to offer the convenience of enjoying McDonald’s meals on the go while waiting in the lounge. This special feature is available on NueGo bus services from the Inter-State Bus Terminal (ISBT), New Delhi to popular destinations like Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Dehradun, Agra or Jaipur.
All these initiatives reflect our profound dedication to fostering a sustainable Earth and giving back to the communities.
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