According to the SEC, McDonald’s shareholders can vote on the civil rights review proposal

McDonald’s shareholders will later this spring consider a proposal on whether to conduct a civil rights audit of its operations — a vote that will come after the Feds rejected the company’s efforts to quash the initiative.

The fast-food giant asked the SEC in January to remove the proposal from its annual power of attorney, arguing that the proposed scrutiny would affect its legal defenses against lawsuits brought by black franchisees and employees alleging racial discrimination and unfair treatment do.

The SEC has dismissed McDonald’s motion — meaning a potential civil rights review will be up for a vote at the company’s upcoming shareholder meeting.

“We cannot agree with your view that the company could opt out of the proposal,” the SEC said in an April 5 letter to McDonald’s sourced from Bloomberg. “In our view, the proposal goes beyond ordinary business matters.”

Pressure on McDonald’s to conduct an independent audit of its policies began last November when consulting firm SOC Investment asked the company to conduct a third-party review to fill alleged gaps in its diversity disclosures.

The firm had previously argued that McDonald’s was trying to “evade accountability” by preventing a vote on the measure.

MC Donalds
McDonald’s has faced multiple lawsuits alleging racial discrimination against black franchisees.
Universal Images Group via Getty Images

“McDonald’s shareholders will have their rightful opportunity to urge the fast-food chain to conduct an independent assessment of its commitment to civil rights,” Dieter Waizenegger, executive director of SOC Investment, said in a statement to Bloomberg.

“This review would include a review of policies on racial justice and sexual harassment – issues affecting workers, consumers,

McDonald’s did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

McDonald’s has faced multiple lawsuits from black franchisees alleging racial discrimination. Last December, the company settled a dispute with a franchisee who argued McDonald’s steered it to less profitable restaurant locations.

Another lawsuit on behalf of 77 black former franchisees is pending.

McDonald’s has taken steps to address concerns about its commitment to equality, pledging that by 2025 at least 35% of its leadership positions will be filled with candidates from historically underrepresented groups.

The company too Pledged $250 million over five years to increase the number of its minority-owned franchise locations in the US, the Chicago Tribune reported.

McDonald’s is the latest in a growing number of companies facing shareholder pressure over civil rights issues. Apple shareholders voted for a similar third-party audit of the iPhone maker’s operations during the company’s shareholder meeting in March. According to the SEC, McDonald’s shareholders can vote on the civil rights review proposal


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