May 16, 2022 | Toronto ON – From its advertising, to its political donations, to its plastics pollution, Mondelēz International continues to have an adverse impact on racialized populations. To begin to address and mitigate such risks, shareholders have filed a proposal requesting the global snack conglomerate to conduct a racial equity audit shaped by civil rights groups and everyday customers.
Filed by the Canadian responsible investing organization, the Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE), on behalf of Dragonfly Ventures, shareholders will vote on this proposal at the company’s annual general meeting on May 18.
In 2020, Mondelēz announced a multi-year commitment to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion through its U.S. and global operations. But these commitments do not address the company’s impacts on those beyond internal stakeholders.
“Since 2021, an increasing number of investors have been holding companies accountable to their own public racial equity commitments and goals,” said Anthony Schein, Director of Shareholder Advocacy at SHARE. “A third-party audit will show if Mondelēz’s actions are truly contributing to its stated racial equity commitments.”
Shareholders are particularly concerned with the global environmental impact Mondelēz is having – particularly on Black, Indigenous, and racialized communities. The company was sued in 2020 for its contribution to the global plastics pollution crisis in California, and a 2021 audit found that Mondelēz was one of the largest plastics polluters in the world.
“Research has found that plastics pollution harms Black, Indigenous, and people of colour communities the most,” said Wendy Cooper, Co-CEO of Dragonfly Ventures, the proponent. “A racial equity audit is necessary to identify how racialized communities are being impacted by Mondelēz’s products – and identify ways for the company to address these significant risks.”
In addition, Mondelēz’s political donations do not seem to align with its public commitment to racial equity and DEI. While the company made donations to NAACP and to the Black Lives Matter Global Network in 2020, its political donations run counter to these philanthropic pledges. For example, in 2020, the company donated to the campaign of former Senator Kelly Loeffler, who has gone on record as saying she believes Black Lives Matter promotes “violence and destruction across the country.”
“Attacks on racial equity fuel anti-Blackness and hinder progress towards racial justice,” said Schein. “Donations to candidates who make such remarks undercut the company’s credibility on racial justice issues. The proposed audit will help the company, and investors, assess the alignment of its political donations with its racial equity strategy.”
A growing list of prominent public corporations, like Starbucks, Airbnb, and Meta Platforms, have recently done similar audits that led to real and tangible change in policies and practices. Companies like JP Morgan Chase, TD Bank, Tyson Foods, Amazon, State Street, and BlackRock have all committed to undertaking a third-party racial equity audit.
Canadian and U.S. investors are increasingly concerned about how companies are addressing racial equity issues. In Canada, 63% of shareholders at Constellation Software supported a shareholder proposal that requested the company to report on its racial equity plans.
“Racial equity issues present significant legal, financial, regulatory, and reputational business risks,” said Juana Lee, Engagement Analyst at SHARE. “Mondelēz business practices and products appear to disproportionately harm communities of colour, which may significantly impact shareholders’ long-term value. Shareholders and communities require a comprehensive and independent audit to address these material risks.”
For more information, please contact:
Amanda Watkins, Manager, Communications Strategy, SHARE
SHARE is a Canadian leader in responsible investment services, research and education for institutional investors and shareholder engagement, proxy advisory and consulting services, education and timely research that help investors integrate environmental, social and governance issues in the investment management process.