HII has introduced resolutions at McDonald’s (MCD) for at least 15 years, although we are not as persistent with them as we are with Monsanto.
MCD represents all that is wrong with large US corporate junk food corporations that process poor health, diabetes, hard arteries, obesity, and poor wages, not to mention an incredibly large global carbon footprint.
With the assistance of Corporate Accountability International (CAI) over several years we have introduced resolutions at MCD, calling for a report on fast food and child obesity, sustainability, and challenging the company to report on the corporation’s incongruencies between its political contributions and its professed “values”. This year, we are calling attention to the discrepancy between MCD’s “charitable giving” and its public relations campaigns and propaganda expressing its “values”. It all comes down to “follow the money”, (the morality or materialistic self-interest) of corporate management, and not hollow marketing slogans, or more public relations noise.
MCD challenged the resolution on the grounds of “ordinary business”, but the SEC did not allow the corporation to omit the resolution and the CAI/HII resolution appeared on the 2017 proxy ballot.
UPDATE— The 2017 Annual Meeting of Shareholders was held on May 24 on the McDonald’s Oak Brook, IL campus, and the corporation faced opposition from more than just CAI and HII. Other resolutions were introduced on issues including corporate political giving, shareholder voting methods and changes to the company’s policy regarding their meat suppliers’ use of antibiotics.
Speaking with sincerity and conviction, Gregory Akili of CAI presented the resolution, accompanied by several fellow Corporate Accountability colleagues.
Naturally, aside from the ordinary issues such as election of directors and approval of executive compensation, management did not support any of the proposals on the ballot. Although these shareholder proposals were essentially “defeated”, the HII/CAI proposal did meet the 3% vote threshold required to reintroduce the resolution next year.
Given that the history of McDonald’s corporation is littered with contradictions between their stated ‘values’ and their actual business practices, you can rest assured we will be back – full force – next year, demanding improvement in corporate conduct.
Shareholder Resolution 2017
RESOLVED, shareholders of McDonald’s Corporation (the “Company”) hereby request that the Company prepare and annually update a report to shareholders, at reasonable expense and excluding proprietary information, listing and analyzing charitable contributions during the prior year. The report should:
1. Identify organizational or individual recipients of donations, whether cash or in-kind, in excess of $500 and aggregate of smaller contributions by categories of recipients such as community organizations, schools, dietary organizations, medical groups, environmental, churches, etc.;
2. Identify areas of alignment and potential conflict between the Company’s charitable contributions and the Company’s key stated ambitions, values and mission as stated in its corporate social responsibility reports and SEC filings;
3. Include management’s analysis of any risks to the Company’s brand, reputation, or shareholder value posed by public controversies associated with contributions or any incongruencies with corporate values;
4. Include coherent criteria for assessing congruency and brand risk, such as identifying philanthropic areas or initiatives considered most germane to corporate values and types of donations that may be contrary to company values or reputation; and
5. Based on the above, evaluate and state justification for any identified incongruent activities.
Research by the Proponent uncovered charitable activities that may pose a risk to the Company’s reputation and brand by undermining the Company’s stated commitments.
• McTeacher’s Nights. The Company’s “Ambition” includes “using our reach to be a positive force” and being a “Good Neighbor” because we “champion happy, healthy kids.” Yet teachers’ unions have stated that the Company’s McTeacher’s Nights program exploits the trust families place in schools to promote junk food to children, undermining teachers’ efforts to teach students healthy habits. Other school programs have faced similar criticisms.
• Sponsorship of health organizations. The Company has made contributions to health-related organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the California Dietetic Association, and the Michigan Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics conference, among others. Because of our company’s association with foods high in fat, sugar and salt, a number of these contributions were criticized by Dieticians for Public Integrity and other observers, leading to detrimental media coverage for our Company.
As long-term shareholders of McDonald’s Corporation, we believe the Company should ensure that its practices minimize risk to its reputation and brand. Thus, the Company should disclose and review its charitable activities to ensure they are congruent with its stated values and avoid unnecessary risk to shareholder value.