McDonald’s hires outside firm to perform racial equity audit after shareholder vote

Audit comes as companies face growing pressure on social issues

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Friday 03 June 2022 22:06 BST

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McDonald’s has hired an outside firm to perform a racial equity audit after a vote last week by the company’s shareholders.

The investors approved a resolution that called for an independent civil-rights audit, with 55 per cent supporting the measure at the company’s annual meeting.

McDonald’s told Bloomberg on Thursday that “we are committed to providing equitable opportunities for our employees, franchisees, and suppliers”.

“While we are proud of our progress, our efforts are ongoing, and we will continue to focus on actions that have meaningful impact. Consistent with these efforts, we have engaged a third party to conduct an assessment,” they added.

An audit would likely include McDonald’s, which is based in Chicago, Illinois, having to collect information from its franchised locations, as well as from customers and suppliers to understand if and how the company contributes to racial inequality.

The overwhelming majority of McDonald’s locations, about 95 per cent, are franchises and therefore hire their own employees – meaning that they make their own decisions on pay and hiring.

The audit comes as a large number of companies face pressure from shareholders on social and racial justice matters, as well as the environment and on governance issues.

On Thursday, Lowe’s said in a filing that its investors voted for a proposal that called for a report on racial and gender gaps at the company. Home Depot previously voted in support of a racial equity audit.

Directors at McDonald’s, Lowe’s, and Home Depot had recommended that the proposals be voted down.

Calls for companies to conduct civil rights audits increased following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police on 25 May 2020, which prompted nationwide protests as the pandemic was bearing down on the US.

Advocates say the audits are a way for companies to understand how they may be contributing to racial injustice and can help to address systemic racism.

JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon has said that they simply add “bureaucracy and BS” but the banking giant later agreed to conduct a narrow investigation.

Last year, Facebook hired a former Obama Justice Department official to start a division in the company overseeing its civil rights policies following an audit. Airbnb asked its hosts to agree to not discriminate against guests, with the company saying that more than a million hosts rejected the request. Starbucks recently closed down its stores to conduct anti-bias training.

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