In a meeting held on Thursday, May 26, McDonald’s shareholders voted to re-elect the company’s current board of directors, defeating attempts by billionaire investor Carl Icahn to improve the company’s policies on animal welfare. Animal rights organization PETA was also present to pressure McDonald’s on its slow marketing efforts for the new McPlant burger.
A proxy war
In recent months, Icahn has vocally campaigned to hold McDonald’s accountable for failing to meet its decade-old commitment to source pork from suppliers that do not confine pigs in gestation stalls. Since 2012, the fast-food chain has repeatedly shifted on its original pledge, but now says 85% to 90% of its US pork supply will be gestation crate-free by the end of the year.
In April, Icahn wrote to McDonald’s shareholders urging them to vote in new board members who would uphold better ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) values. “I believe the world’s largest asset managers, who collectively possess immense influence due to their trillions of dollars in capital, must stop subjectively selecting which ESG principles are important,” Icahn said.
He added, “This grotesque mistreatment of animals – and the Company’s inability to make significant progress on promises made to multiple stakeholders in 2012 – clearly stem from dysfunction and indifference in McDonald’s’ boardroom.” Despite his efforts, shareholders voted overwhelmingly against Icahn’s proposed nominees.
PETA demands answers
PETA, another McDonald’s stockholder, also took part in the anticipated meeting. One of PETA’s top concerns is why the McPlant burger was advertised heavily in Europe but not in the US, which may be contributing to the item’s lackluster performance in trial cities. In March, PETA hosted a McPlant giveaway in Texas and California to boost the burger’s sales.
Since 2020, PETA has additionally held shares in Tyson, Hormel, Smithfield, and other major meat producers as a strategy to push those companies in a more plant-based direction, the group says. The results of Thursday’s vote suggest much more activism is to come.
As Icahn’s letter noted, “The reality is that if the ESG movement is to be more than a marketing concept and fundraising tool, the massive asset managers who are among McDonald’s’ largest owners must back up their words with actions.”
Source : vegconomist.com (26/05/2022)
Photo : tirée de l'article original