"It's like that at Ronald's house …"

Steve Easterbrook, general manager of the fast-food giant, had to resign because of the connection he had with an employee of the company. Confirmation of Anglo-Saxon puritanism even in the economy, analyzes Jean-Michel Bezat, journalist at the "World".

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Steve Easterbrook, General Manager of Fast Food Giant, July 10 in Sun Valley, Idaho. Drew Angerer / AFP

We do not joke with love (or sex) at McDonald's. For having recently started a relationship – yet "Consented" – with an employee, its executive director, Steve Easterbrook, was pushed to the exit. After thorough investigation, the board of directors of the fast-food giant judged that it had "Violates company rules" and "Shows bad judgment". In an act of repentance addressed to the employees, the outlaw confessed " error " and recognized that he was "Time to move on". It's like that at Ronald's house …

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Sic transit gloria mundi… The dismissal apparently has nothing to do with its operational and financial performance: global profit has increased every year since its appointment in 2015, and the stock's value has doubled. Still, activity is stagnating in the United States, McDonald's image remains associated with "junk food" and its customers are turning to a healthier diet. US employees also complained about workplace harassment, even sexual harassment, while parliamentarians and unions demanded a minimum hourly wage of $ 15 (€ 13.40).

Mr. Easterbrook is not the first to suffer this spell

Mr. Easterbrook was replaced by the US branch boss, Chris Kempczinski, an over-graduate (Duke and Harvard Business School) from PepsiCo, Kraft and Procter & Gamble. He ruled out everything "Radical change of strategy", which provides for the creation of new products, investment in technology (applications, new orders, deliveries) and negotiations with well-established franchisees, who have created an association to defend their interests.

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Mr. Easterbrook is not the first of the American "bosses" to suffer this fate, far from the French custom. In 2018, the boss of the Intel microprocessor manufacturer, Brian Krzanich, had to resign because of his relationship with an employee. Like Darren Huston, CEO of the Priceline e-commerce site, in 2016; or Brian Dunn, boss of the BestBuy retail group, in 2012. Nothing to do with the actions denounced by the #MeToo movement against harassment and sexual assault.

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Should we rather see in this dismissal an additional sign of the revival of puritanism across the Atlantic, once illustrated by the ban on Facebook of the painting of Courbet The origin of the world, and more generally nudity? Or, who knows, the confirmation of the thesis of the sociologist Max Weber, who saw in the laborious asceticism and the job well done, expressions of Protestant ethics, the reason for the success of capitalism in the Anglo-Saxon countries?


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