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McDonald's Corp. engages third party for civil rights audit after shareholder vote.

McDonald’s engages third-party diversity audit after shareholder vote

Ballot produces 55.1% support for outside assessment of company’s policies and procedures

A majority of McDonald’s Corp. shareholders voted recently to support a third-party audit of the company’s civil-rights practices and policies, casting 55.1% of shares in favor of a proxy proposal that had been disputed, and the company said it has engaged an outside group to conduct an assessment of its policies and procedures.

SOC Investment Group had filed the shareholder proposal and was supported by civil-rights advocates. The Securities and Exchange Commission weighed in, saying the shareholder vote should go forward.

The Chicago-based burger chain on Friday said it had engaged a third party to conduct a diversity assessment.

“Diversity, equity and inclusion are at the heart of McDonald’s core values,” McDonald’s said in a statement.

“We are committed to providing equitable opportunities for our employees, franchisees and suppliers,” the company said. “While we are proud of our progress, our efforts are ongoing, and we will continue to focus on actions that have meaningful impact. Consistent with these efforts, we have engaged a third party to conduct an assessment.”

The shareholder proposal asked that McDonald’s conduct a third-party audit of the company’s policies and practices and their impact on franchisees, workers at corporate and franchise stores and consumers.

“This shareholder vote calls on McDonald's to reconcile its stated commitment to ‘fair treatment in access, opportunity and advancement for all’ with allegations of harmful practices from the fast-food chain’s workers, franchisee operators and business partners,” said Dieter Waizenegger, executive director of SOC Investment Group, in a statement.

“McDonald’s has a responsibility to now engage key stakeholders like shareholders, racial justice leaders and workers in good faith to address clear risks and undergo a third-party examination to assess the effectiveness of the company’s current approach to civil rights,” Waizenegger said.

SOC’s effort was back by Norges Bank, the sovereign wealth fund, and major public pension funds, including the NYC Retirement Systems, State Board of Administration of Florida, CalPERS, Ontario Teachers’ and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. Advisory firms Glass Lewis and Institutional Shareholder Services also recommended that shareholders vote for the proposal.

In addition, Color of Change, the nation’s largest online racial justice organization, had called on McDonald’s investors to vote in favor of the audit.

“By voting in favor of an independent civil rights audit, shareholders have created a path for McDonald’s to begin the intensive work of addressing its systemic issues that have continuously jeopardized its stakeholders—from their shareholders to their workers and communities,” said Rashad Robinson, Color of Change president.

McDonald’s in March updated progress toward some of its diversity goals. McDonald’s said U.S. members of under-represented groups now hold 30% of leadership roles, up from 29% in 2021. The goal is 35% by 2025.

In December, McDonald’s pledged $250 million over five years to provide financing alternatives designed to build a more diverse base of operators.

McDonald's has about 40,000 locations in more than 100 countries.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless


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