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SOC Investment Group urges McDonald's Corp. board to conduct a third-party audit.

Investment group urges McDonald’s civil-rights audit

SOC asks board to conduct third-party assessment on issues such as racism and diversity

An inverstment adviser to union pension funds this week called on McDonald’s Corp. to conduct a third-party audit of its policies and how they may contribute to social and economic inequality.

SOC Investment Group, formerly known as the CtW Investment Group, sent a shareholder proposal to McDonald’s board urging a third-party audit of policies and practices on the civil rights of company shareholders, franchisees, workers and consumer communities.

The company, in a statement, said, “McDonald’s values accountability for upholding our commitments to driving equitable opportunity and publicly shares critical data on diversity, equity and inclusion.”

McDonald’s noted that it holds “executives accountable to improving representation of women and historically underrepresented groups in leadership, maintaining equal pay for women and historically underrepresented groups, and continuing to increase spending with diverse-owned suppliers. Our focus is continued action to bring about meaningful and overdue change.”

In February, the company committed to corporate leadership diversity and, in July, outlined a map for diversity goals among its largest suppliers.

SOC Investment Group has filed racial-equity proposals with such large financial institutions as Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, StateStreet and BlackRock.

In October, Citi became the first major retail bank to agree to take up a racial equity audit.

In the SOC Investment Group’s proposal for McDonald’s, which was supported by the SEIU Capital Stewardship Program, noted: “A civil-rights audit will help McDonald’s identify, remedy and avoid adverse impacts on its stakeholders. We urge McDonald’s to assess its behavior through a civil rights lens to obtain a complete picture of how it contributes to social and economic inequality.”

Earlier in November, McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski addressed criticism for a text sent to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot that was deemed racist and insensitive following the shooting death of two children earlier this year, saying the messages “lacked empathy and compassion.”

For the third quarter ended Sept. 30, McDonald’s net income was $2.149 billion, or 2.86 a share, up from $1.762 billion, or $2.35 a share in same period last year. Revenues in the third quarter were up 14% to $6.201 billion from $5.418 billion in the prior-year period.

McDonald’s has nearly 40,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries. About 93% of McDonald’s restaurants are franchisee-operated.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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