Photo by Jonathan Maze
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission this week denied a request by McDonald’s to avoid having shareholders vote on whether the company should conduct an audit of its civil rights practices.
The SEC told McDonald’s this week that the burger chain must include a proposal from SOC Investment Group that would urge the company’s board to have a third-party review of its civil rights record. Bloomberg first reported on the decision.
Labor-backed and socially responsible investment groups have increasingly offered such votes in publicly traded companies. And the shareholders support them. Shareholders of iPhone maker Apple and government services company Maximus recently approved such votes, for example.
Four other companies, CitiGroup, Tyson, Blackrock and JP Morgan, have agreed to work with shareholders to pursue civil rights audits.
“Because of the SEC’s decision, McDonald’s shareholders will have a legitimate opportunity to urge the fast-food chain to conduct a third-party assessment of its civil rights commitments,” said Dieter Waizenegger, executive director of the SOC Investment Group, in a press release. statement. He noted that the audit would include a review of policies on racial justice and sexual harassment that “are front and center for workers, consumers and shareholders.”
McDonald’s would not comment on the matter.
The SOC proposed the audit question late last year. McDonald’s had been sued on multiple fronts over racial issues, including current and former franchisees, former executives and Weather Channel owner Byron Allen accusing the company of discrimination.
CEO Chris Kempczinski, meanwhile, drew a storm of criticism for a text he sent to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot that effectively blamed the children’s parents for the separate shootings of children in the city.
The burger giant had apparently asked the SEC to allow it to leave the matter out of its proxy statement, arguing that it would potentially harm its defense in the discrimination lawsuits.
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