McDonald’s has set a goal of expanding representation of women and people of color in its leadership ranks over the next four years.

In a corporate blog post titled, “Allyship Through Accountability,” the restaurant chain stated the mission to “increase representation of historically underrepresented groups in leadership roles (senior director and above)” to 35% by 2025; as of 2020, McDonald’s found these demographics accounted for 29% of leadership roles.

The company also stated it would increase the representation of women in leadership roles globally to 45% within four years; as of 2020, women made up 37% of McDonald’s global leadership positions.

The company also said it would begin using “quantitative human capital management-related metrics” to measure the annual incentive compensation for its executive vice presidents. Under these metrics, executives will be judged on “their ability to champion our core values, improve representation within leadership roles for both women and historically underrepresented groups, and create a strong culture of inclusion within the company.”

The company’s senior leadership will also collaborate with Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Reggie Miller and his office on initiatives to further encourage diversity in the upper ranks, including the use of an “Inclusion Index” for building a more inclusive workforce.

The new emphasis on diversity comes as McDonald’s is facing a public relations dilemma with a lawsuit by Herbert Washington, a former Oakland A’s player and McDonald’s franchisee. He alleges the company restricted him to low-volume locations in predominantly Black neighborhoods, then forced him to downsize after grading his locations unfairly.

McDonald’s, in turn, told CNBC that Washington’s franchises were disrupted by “years of mismanagement” and generated high volumes of customer complaints.

Washington’s lawsuit is the latest complaint of racial bias aimed at McDonald’s. Last September, 52 Black former McDonald’s franchisees sued the company for racial discrimination, claiming they were denied the same opportunities as white operators. In January 2020, two Black former executives sued McDonald’s over alleged racial discrimination in the workplace.

McDonald’s had a Black president and CEO when Don Thompson ran the company from 2012 until 2015. Thompson stepped down and is now CEO of Cleveland Avenue, a venture capital firm focused on the food trade.

This story originally appeared on Benzinga.

© 2021 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

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