- McDonald's Chief People Officer David Fairhurst has left the company, and no reason was given for his departure. The news was announced in an internal memo on Monday by CEO Chris Kempczinksi, according to Bloomberg and other outlets.
- Fairhurst's departure comes just three days after the company's board voted to fire former CEO Steve Easterbrook for engaging in a relationship with an employee, which reportedly was a violation of corporate policy. There has been no indication of whether Fairhurst's departure is related to Easterbrook's.
- Fairhurst was with the company for 15 years and was promoted to his position in 2015 by Easterbrook, according to The Wall Street Journal.
This latest departure brings the number of C-suite exits at McDonald's this year to four. Global CMO Silvia Lagnado left the company earlier in the summer, and Chief Communications Officer Robert Gibbs left last month.
Several major leadership departures in a short amount of time could signal a larger corporate problem, one that could erode investor confidence: McDonald's stock price fell 2.5% on Monday in the wake of Easterbrook's firing.
The departure of its chief people officer also could slow the company's progress in addressing issues of sexual harassment at the store level, which has garnered significant attention from lawmakers. McDonald's said it enhanced its policy and launched an anonymous hotline in May. The company also has faced questions over whether it is a joint employer with its franchises and therefore jointly liable for employment violations — though the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that it isn't under California law.
McDonald's isn't the only restaurant chain to undergo major leadership changes of late, however. Red Robin, which is under pressure from investors to make changes to its strategy, and Papa John's, which endured a scandal following racists comments from founder John Schnatter, have also experienced new several executive shuffles — including new CEOs — in a short amount of time.
While Papa John's has begun to bounce back after tapping its first chief people officer, launching a new marketing campaign and bringing on Shaquille O'Neal as a brand ambassador and franchisee, Red Robin continues to struggle and stoke investor concern.