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Meeting stakeholder needs in a changing business environment
The business environment is not static. It evolves with time, reflecting changes in the broader social environment. Our lifestyles are very different to those of our grandparents and even our parents, partly because technological advances have transformed the workplace and the family home. The pace of life is increasing, and many families turn to the convenience of takeaway and fast foods on a regular basis. However, change is pushing the foodservice world in different directions. Advances in healthcare and preventative medicine have stressed the importance of a healthy diet. Increased access to mass communications, such as television and the Internet, has meant that consumers are becoming savvier about health issues, and are demanding better choices in convenience foods.
As the business environment changes, so too do the views of stakeholders. Stakeholders are those groups or individuals who are affected by the activities of a business. McDonald's Australia stakeholders are diverse, and include:
- Customers - who range from the very young to the elderly
- Business partners - including franchisees and suppliers
- Employees - with more than 65,000 people employed throughout Australia
- Opinion leaders - or people who shape the ideas of the nation, including the government, the media, health professionals, and environmental groups.
Reconciling the interests of stakeholders is crucial to continued business success. Compare it to a three-legged stool. If one leg is weak or not properly aligned, the entire stool is weakened and can topple over. A strong relationship between McDonald's Australia, its franchisees and its suppliers is essential, with all elements working together to meet customer needs. Responding to a changing business environment is easier if the basic structure is strong.
Keep in mind that change is a two-way street. Businesses are affected by the external environment - but they also help to shape and create that environment. Stakeholders are coming to expect more out of businesses in terms of corporate citizenship. Businesses need to be mindful of the effect they have on the broader community, including the health of its youngest members. McDonald's Australia's philosophy is to be continually responsive to market demands, and accept that there is always more to learn. Catriona Noble, the Chief Operating Offi cer of McDonald's Australia, notes that, Social responsibility challenges are always evolving and we are focused on learning from experts and adapting our operations to maximise the positive impact we can have on our society.'