- 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 leaves just three days after McDonald's board voted to fire former CEO Steve Easterbrook for engaging in a relationship with an employee, which is a violation of corporate policy. There has been no indication of whether or not Fairhurst's departure is related to Easterbrook's.
- Fairhurst has been with the company for 15 years and was promoted to his position in 2015 by Easterbrook, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Another corporate departure doesn't bode well for the world's largest fast food chain. 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 has fallen 3% on Monday in the wake of Easterbrook's firing.
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. Given McDonald's stable performance and growing same-store sales, the chain may see more damage to its reputation than its financials.
The departure of its chief people officer could also slow down progress the company has tried to make in addressing issues of sexual harassment at the store level, which has garnered significant attention from lawmakers. McDonald's said it has enhanced its policy and launched an anonymous hotline in May.