It’s annual meeting season and this spring, publicly traded catering companies will see votes on resolutions ranging from the use of gestation crates in meat production to transparency on workforce diversity. ‘work.
Shareholder activism isn’t new, but lobby groups are increasingly taking action in companies to push for change around environmental, social and governance, or ESG, issues. While such resolutions may never have a chance of being passed, they do spark debate on topics such as animal welfare, reducing emissions and whether to eliminate carbon credit. tipping on a more public forum – at least through proxy statements.
Later this month, for example, shareholders of Dine Brands Global Inc. and Denny’s will be asked to vote on a shareholder resolution to analyze the impact of ending the use of below-minimum pay. , known as tip credit.
Shareholders of Chipotle Mexican Grill and McDonald’s Corp. will vote on resolutions related to diversity and inclusion transparency. McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Dine Brands Global Inc. will examine the use of gestation crates for pigs raised for meat.
A resolution for Restaurant Brands International, or RBI, asks the company to analyze and report on how the business will be resilient in the face of workforce pressures.
Shareholder resolutions like these are also drawing more attention to the setting of ESG goals by large corporations at a time when those goals are increasingly tied to executive compensation.
Dine Brands released its latest ESG report on Thursday, and company officials said the targets will be tied to executive compensation next year. Papa Johns also released its report this week, announcing that an ESG measure will be tied to executive bonuses and the incentive compensation of other eligible team members. Other restaurant companies that have linked ESG goals to compensation include Chipotle, McDonald’s and Yum Brands Inc.
Click to see some of the ESG issues slated for a vote this year. For each of these resolutions, the board of directors of the company concerned opposes it, urging shareholders to vote against, with one exception.
Dine Brands and Denny’s: aim for tip credit
Shareholders of Dine Brands Global Inc. and Denny’s will vote on a shareholder resolution calling on franchisors to analyze the impact of increasing wages for hourly workers by removing the tip credit.
The resolutions were submitted by the Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica and the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who are members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Accountability.
On Thursday, the New York State Pension Fund and the New York City Pension Fund — which together own about $1.1 million in stock at Dine Brands and $980,000 at Denny’s — announced their support for the resolution, which is on the proxy for the chains annual meeting. shareholder meetings, scheduled for May 12 for Dine Brands and May 18 for Denny’s.
At Dine Brands and Denny’s, shareholder resolutions recognize that both companies are franchisors of almost entirely franchised chains and therefore have no control over the salaries paid by franchisees. The resolutions call on companies to analyze and disclose how restaurants would be affected by paying the full minimum wage, plus tips, rather than using the sub-minimum wage where permitted.
Dine Brands’ proxy also includes a shareholder resolution submitted by the Humane Society of the United States urging the company to follow through on its promises to stop serving pork raised by suppliers who use gestation crates.
Chipotle Mexican Grill: Transparency on Diversity and Inclusion
Chipotle Mexican Grill shareholders will be asked to vote on two proposals that call for more transparency about the chain’s efforts to address diversity, equity and inclusion.
One, known as Proposition 6, calls for a third-party racial equity audit to analyze how the 3,000-unit fast-food chain deals with civil rights issues and their impact on the business. A second, known as Proposition 7, asks the channel to release qualitative data on workforce composition, employee retention and promotion rates by gender, race and ethnicity.
The proposals, which are among the issues scheduled for a vote at Chipotle’s annual meeting of shareholders on May 18.
McDonald’s Corp. : verification of civil rights and gestation funds
McDonald’s has been lobbied for months by activist Carl Icahn over the welfare and treatment of pigs in the fast-food brand’s supply chain.
At the annual meeting scheduled for May 26, Icahn is seeking the support of two “ESG experts” as board members to advance goals, such as moving away from pork produced by suppliers who use crates. gestation by the end of 2023 for domestic units, among other goals.
Additionally, in a separate resolution, shareholders will be asked to vote on whether the company should conduct a third-party audit to assess the channel’s civil rights commitments.
McDonald’s initially asked the Securities and Exchange Commission if it could omit the proposal from the power of attorney statement, alleging it could interfere with lawsuits brought by black franchisees. But the SEC said shareholders should be allowed to vote on the proposal.
Additionally, McDonald’s shareholders will vote on a resolution from environmental justice group As You Sow asking the company to reduce its use of plastic packaging.
McDonald’s says it has already taken significant steps in this direction by committing to sourcing renewable and recycled materials, reducing waste, phasing out straws and eliminating plastic from Happy Meals.
Restaurant Brands International: Confronting the labor crisis
At its June 15 annual meeting, Restaurant Brands International, or RBI, shareholders will be asked to vote on a resolution asking the company to analyze and report on how the business will be resilient in the face of pressure. of the labor market.
The resolution calls on the franchisor to report on its business strategy to help franchisees adopt competitive employment standards, including wages and benefits, and to demonstrate the effectiveness of its strategy by disclosing metrics and information. on human capital.
In its opposition, RBI argued that its 29,000 restaurants are 95% operated by franchisees. The company already provides labor information in its sustainability report, the company said, and any additional reporting would be an inefficient use of resources.
Wendy’s: Gestation Crates
The use of gestation crates is also on the agenda for Wendy’s annual meeting, scheduled for May 18. A resolution asks Wendy’s to confirm that the use of crates will cease in its North American supply chain by the end of 2022.
In this case, Wendy’s Board of Directors has taken the position of neither supporting nor opposing the proposal, saying it is on track to achieve this goal.
Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected]
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