May 08, 2018
Restaurant Brands International Owns Burger King, Tim Hortons, Popeyes, & Domino's Pizza
Consumer Group Representing Shareholders Urges Company to Provide Time-Bound Goals for Reducing Impacts of Deforestation
CANADA -- Ahead of Restaurant Brand International’s annual general meeting of shareholders on June 7th, SumOfUs, an international consumer group, has submitted a shareholder proposal on behalf of the British Columbia Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU) calling on the company to issue annual reports to investors, at reasonable expense and excluding proprietary information, providing quantitative metrics on supply chain impacts on deforestation, including progress on time bound goals for reducing such impacts.
RBI utilizes beef, soy, palm oil, and pulp/paper in its business and these commodities are among the leading drivers of deforestation globally. RBI’s limited action on deforestation exposes the company to the significant business risks that deforestation may pose. Shareholders argue that these risks include supply chain unreliability, damage to its brand value, and failure to meet shifting consumer and market expectations.
“We believe that deforestation is an important component of a corporate sustainability framework
for RBI and is key to RBI’s management of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) risks,” explained Lisa Lindsley, Capital Markets Advisor for SumOfUs.
“As a shareholder, we want to see RBI set measurable goals and clear timelines for reducing its supply chain impacts on deforestation, thereby improving the sustainability of its business practices,” says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith.
According to leading ESG research firm Sustainalytics, RBI:
“...does not disclose an overall governance structure that indicates an incorporation of sustainability issues into business strategy. Policy frameworks and strong programmes to address key ESG issues are not disclosed. While the company has managed to avoid severe sustainability‐related controversies, its public disclosure of how it manages ESG risks is weak. Therefore, our overall view of the company’s ability to manage its key ESG issues is negative.”
Deforestation accounts for over 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to biodiversity loss, soil erosion, disrupted rainfall patterns, community land conflicts and forced labor. Commercial agriculture accounted for over 70% of tropical deforestation between 2000 and 2012, half of which was illegal. Value chains that are illegally engaged in deforestation are vulnerable to interruption with new regulations and enforcement, to which companies must adapt.
Companies that have failed to mitigate the impacts of their supply chain face reputational damage. In recent years, major media outlets have reported on specific companies’ failure to adequately implement policies that address deforestation. This publicity, along with increased consumer awareness and concern about deforestation, poses a significant reputational risk.