Resolution at YUM Brands Captures 35.2 % of Shareholder votes(A)
Shareholders of YUM Brands sent a clear message to the company’s Board of Directors by voting 35.2% of their shares in support of the shareholder resolution calling for a transparent a review of YUM Brands’ policies, programs and practices related to social, environmental and economic sustainability throughout the company’s supply chains. The voting results dwarf the typical single-digit level of support shown for such resolutions. The proponents of the resolution were the Center for Reflection, Education and Action (CREA), Trillium Asset Management, the United Church of Christ Board for Pension Asset Management (UCC), United Church Foundation, Christian Brothers Investment Services, and the Needmor Fund.
YUM Brands, the parent company for Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut, Long John Silvers and A&W Restaurants, has come under intense scrutiny for not accepting responsibility for the working conditions at its key produce suppliers, in particular, those affecting the migrant workers in Florida who pick the tomatoes consumed in YUM Brands’ franchise restaurants.
The resolution was originally inspired by the struggle of the Immokalee workers for decent working conditions and fair, sustainable living wages from the farms that supply YUM Brands restaurants. Recently, the plight of agricultural workers was described in a comprehensive New Yorker article (“Nobodies,” April 28, 2003). The resolution was formulated to require YUM to accept responsibility throughout its entire supply chain for workers’ wages and working conditions The resolution’s proponents believe that this responsibility needs to be reflected in the programs, policies and practices of YUM Brands, and contrast the company’s position with that of other industries that have acknowledged responsibility, such as apparel, footwear, automotive, and electronics . YUM lags behind other restaurant and fast food chains in accepting this responsibility.
CREA, the UCC and Trillium have attempted to bring Yum Brands into substantial dialogue on worker issues for almost two years to no avail. “During that time, the management of our company has been both non-responsive and, we believe, irresponsible by neglecting an issue that is central to profitability and sustainability.” said Sister Ruth Rosenbaum, Ph.D., Executive Director of CREA, a faith-based social economic research, education and action center located in Hartford, CT, and the lead proponent of the resolution. “Companies do not operate in a vacuum. They are responsible for programs, policies and practices down their supply chains.” Collectively, all of the resolution proponents provide decades of experience in working with corporations on social and environmental reporting to stakeholders, and independent external monitoring of the corporate codes of conduct.
“Yum’s responsiveness to animal welfare concerns irrefutably demonstrates that the company understands its influence with suppliers,” said Shelley Alpern, Director of Social Research and Advocacy at Trillium Asset Management. YUM Brands’ subsidiary, KFC, recently announced that it would be taking action to upgrade living conditions for millions of chickens provided by its farm suppliers, following pressure from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
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