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Shareholder proposals at McDonald's, Dunkin' appear at an end

Two of the largest U.S. fast-food chains appeared set March 11 to avoid asking shareholders to vote on proposals related to employment and environmental issues.

McDonald's Corp. reached an agreement with supporters of two proposals that will remove both from shareholder ballots. One, proposed by the Benedictine Sisters of Boerne, Texas, would have sought shareholder approval to eliminate the use of some antibiotics from supply chains that provide McDonald's with pork and beef, according to a document from the SEC. McDonald's plans to meet with representatives from the Benedictine Sisters twice in 2019 to outline the chain's action on reducing medically important antibiotics, according to a letter included in SEC documents.

The other, put forward by CtW Investment Group, would have asked shareholders to vote to stamp out mandatory arbitration, non-compete agreements and non-disclosure agreements — all actions that CtW labeled "inequitable employment practices," according to SEC documents. A March 5 letter indicated that CtW had withdrawn the proposal.

Separately, the SEC said in an opinion that Dunkin' Brands Group Inc. would be correct to exclude a proposal filed by Dale Wannen, president of Petaluma, Calif.-based Sustainvest Asset Management LLC, from its proxy documents. Wannen advocated for a proposal that would have asked Dunkin's board to evaluate adding sustainability metrics to those used to evaluate executives at the company.

In its opinion, the SEC said that Dunkin's existing "policies, practices and procedures compare favorably with the guidelines of the Proposal," adding that the chain has already "substantially implemented the proposal."

None of the three proposal proponents immediately responded to requests for comment from S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Resolutions passed by shareholders are generally nonbinding, and companies can decide whether to honor such votes of shareholders at their annual meetings.