95.28%! Wendy’s shareholders overwhelmingly vote for social responsibility, human rights…

Protesters march outside Wendy’s last in-person annual shareholder meeting, held in Columbus, Ohio, in 2019.


Massive display of support by shareholders for transparency, real human rights comes following efforts by company to block vote…

Now you can take action to support Wendy’s shareholders with easy Click-to-Email to company leaders (see below)!

Several months ago, the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, NY — an affiliate of Investor Advocates for Social Justice (IASJ) and ally of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), both longtime CIW supporters and mainstays in the responsible investment community — filed a shareholder resolution demanding transparency into Wendy’s social responsibility efforts.  The resolution was filed in response to Wendy’s refusal to join the Fair Food Program, and specifically in response to Wendy’s claims that its social responsibility efforts are sufficient to justify the hamburger giant’s decision to turn its back on the FFP, the gold standard for human rights in the US produce industry today, the program that virtually all of Wendy’s fast-food competitors joined over a decade ago.

Despite Wendy’s best efforts to block the resolution — called one of the 13 “most important ESG resolutions” of 2o21 in the pages of the Financial Times — from this year’s ballot, shareholders were able to vote to support or reject the Sisters’ resolution at the annual meeting held online on Tuesday of this week.  Ahead of the vote, supporters of the resolution, including the CIW, addressed the meeting via a 3-minute, pre-recorded audio.  Here below is their message, as heard by Wendy’s shareholders:


Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, NY/IASJ: Sister Margaret Magee 

Coalition of Immokalee Workers: Gerardo Reyes

RFK Human Rights: Kerry Kennedy 

Sister Margaret Magee :

I’m Sister Margaret Magee, and I speak—together with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and Kerry Kennedy—on behalf of my congregation, the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, NY, the filer of this resolution.

The resolution seeks evidence of the extent to which Wendy’s protects the human rights of workers in its food supply chain, including from COVID-19.With a global reckoning over racial justice, and a pandemic that disproportionately harms brown and black farmworkers, this is an issue every food retailer must address.

But Wendy’s is falling terribly short, as the only one of its peers not to join the award-winning Fair Food Program.

After fighting this resolution at the SEC, the company now supports it and will issue a report, which is welcome.But that report should include all the concrete information sought by the resolution, so that we can truly compare Wendy’s efforts to the demonstrated success of the Fair Food Program.

Gerardo Reyes:

Thank you, Sister Margaret.  I’m Gerardo Reyes Chavez, with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.  I have picked tomatoes, oranges and watermelons in Florida, Georgia and Missouri.Since I joined the Coalition in 2001, we have assisted with multiple investigations and prosecutions of farmworker slavery operations in the United States.  

So I can tell you first hand that, outside the Fair Food Program, agriculture is a very abusive industry.  Wendy’s has said that its suppliers are safer because they are greenhouses, but there have been many abuses at greenhouses, including outbreaks of COVID-19.  

Inside the Fair Food Program, things are different.  Workers have the right to make complaints, and are protected from retaliation.  Over the past 10 years, the FFP has virtually eliminated abuses from sexual harassment to slavery. It also includes the only enforceable COVID-19 protections for farmworkers that we have seen in social responsibility.  

With this resolution, we demand to know if farmworkers in Wendy’s supply chain have the same right to complain, if they have eliminated abuses like we have, if they are protected from COVID.  All workers deserve to have a safe workplace and to be treated with dignity, and you as shareholders deserve to know whether Wendy’s is protecting your investment by protecting workers in its supply chain.

Kerry Kennedy:

Gerardo, thank you.I’m Kerry Kennedy, President of RFK Human Rights.

In 1964, my father observed: “The power to act is the power to command resources.”That observation guides our Compass Investor Program, which organizes investors to combat racial and economic inequity.It is also the critical insight of the Fair Food Program, and the mandatory market consequences that have made it succeed where virtually all other social responsibility programs have failed.

It is unconscionable that Wendy’s has not joined all its major competitors in this gold standard program.This is becoming increasingly clear to investors, including the more than 100 of us, representing $1 trillion in assets, who asked Wendy’s to join the Program in a letter last month.

I know that Wendy’s wants to be a leader in the ESG space.But if ESG means anything, it means that when a proven solution like the Fair Food Program exists, adopting it should be a foregone conclusion.If you’re not FFP, you’re not ESG.

After the proponents of the resolution were done speaking, Wendy’s provided its own begrudging statement recommending shareholders vote yes, too, having made that unorthodox and unexpected move after its efforts to oppose the resolution before the Securities and Exchange Commission were rebuffed.

With all the arguments presented, it was time to announce the results of the vote, and… the resolution passed!  Though no numbers were provided on the day of the shareholder meeting, the next day Wendy’s shared the actual results of the vote: 95.28%  of shareholders voted in favor of the resolution — a landslide!

The message from the shareholders to Wendy’s was unequivocal: It is time for real social responsibility.  It is time Wendy’s join the Fair Food Program.  As Deb Goldberg, Massachusetts State Treasurer and Receiver-General, said in the wake of the vote, “A vote is still not enough,” adding, Wendy’s should, “commit to joining the Fair Food Program” and “join their peers in providing a better environment for the people who produce the food we all eat.”

And now you can add your voice to the growing chorus demanding real social responsibility from Wendy’s!