Investors want McDonald’s to say more about harassment and discrimination

Workplace harassment concept on notebook with glasses, pencil and coffee cup on wooden table

Clean Yield, a Vermont-based investment firm, is challenging McDonald’s, one of the nation’s largest employers, to be more transparent about workplace harassment.
Last month, Clean Yield filed a shareholder proposal asking McDonald’s to report to shareholders on how emerging state and federal policies on workplace harassment and discrimination may affect the fast-food giant. A number of states are considering measures to restrict nondisclosure and compulsory arbitration agreements when harassment or discrimination may have occurred.  Clean Yield’s resolution joins efforts by investors such as the New York City Retirement System and the Nathan Cummings Foundation to address concerns that corporate policies that enable harassment and discrimination to continue unabated and masked from investors may harm long-term share value.
Clean Yield has filed this resolution, in part, given the sexual harassment concerns raised during protests by McDonald’s employees in 10 cities late last year. The firm is seeking proactive assurance that McDonald’s is not masking patterns of harassment or discrimination.
To date, sixteen states have introduced bills to address the use of nondisclosure agreements related to sexual harassment, and laws have passed in seven states. Alphabet, Facebook, Microsoft, and Uber, among others, have ended forced arbitration related to sexual harassment. “Companies that tolerate harassment and discrimination are exposed to significant legal, brand, financial, and human capital risks,” said Molly Betournay, director of advocacy at Clean Yield. Sexual harassment is particularly widespread in the fast-food industry, where 80% of women and 70% of men report being sexually harassed by co-workers, according to a recent survey by Restaurant Opportunities Centers United and Forward Together.