Citing the company’s progress on sustainability reporting and commitment to continuous enhancement of its social and environmental performance, the Ceres board of directors today announced it has approved fast food giant McDonald’s Corp. as a Ceres company.

McDonald’s is among 65 companies – including nearly a dozen Fortune 500 companies – to be accepted into the Ceres network of companies. Boston-based Ceres is a 16-year-old coalition of investors, environmental organizations and other public interest groups working with companies to tackle sustainability challenges.

“From energy efficiency, to food resource sustainability, to ‘greening’ its supply chain, McDonald’s has made great strides improving its social and environmental performance,” said Ceres President Mindy S. Lubber. “More importantly, the company wants to do even more. Working with investors, environmental groups and other stakeholders, Ceres and McDonald’s are excited about future opportunities to take sustainability deeper into the company and its supply chain, and to encourage improvements and share their expertise across the rest of the fast food industry.”

“We are especially excited about joining Ceres because they’ll help us continue to strengthen the linkage between CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) performance and its relevance to the investment community,” said Ken Barun, Senior Vice President, Corporate Responsibility, McDonald’s Corporation. “Ceres brings forth a unique expertise and a terrific network to help McDonald’s advance its social and environmental efforts.”

McDonald’s has instituted various programs to reduce its environmental footprint and make its global operations more sustainable and transparent. Among these efforts:

  • McDonald’s issued its first Corporate Responsibility Report in 2002 and a second, more substantive Corporate Responsibility Report in 2004. Both of the reports follow reporting guidelines in the Ceres-created Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the de-facto international standard for reporting on environmental, social and business issues.
  • Responsible purchasing programs designed to protect fishing stocks, animal welfare and forest resources. Fish sourcing environmental guidelines, for example, were implemented in 2003 and 2004 after a close collaboration with fish suppliers and Conservation International.
  • Balanced lifestyle and nutrition initiatives that focus on more menu choices, additional food and nutrition information, and the promotion of physical activity. These include expanded salad and fruit offerings and the phasing out of “Super Size” options. Since 2003, McDonald’s has sold over 400 million salad meals and is now buying more fresh apples – estimated at more than 50 million pounds in 2005 – than any other restaurant chain in the country.
  • Implemented a far-reaching Supplier Code of Conduct to ensure safe and healthy work environments and fair compensation and work schedules for employees. The company carried out more than 1,500 external assessments this year to ensure that the code is being complied with.

Many of the company’s programs are the result of close stakeholder engagement and collaboration with animal welfare experts, environmental groups, paper suppliers, shareholders and dozens of others.

Among the stakeholders the company has worked closely with is the New York City Comptroller’s office, which has a large financial stake in McDonald’s as part of the $90 billion in assets it manages for five retirement funds.

“I applaud McDonald’s for taking this important step towards continuous improvements of its global business impacts,” said New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr., referring to the company’s decision to become a Ceres company. “Collaboration with Ceres helps to assure investors of McDonald’s commitment to employ best practices of corporate social responsibility and sustainability reporting. This relationship will serve to enhance the long-term interests of the company and its shareholders.”

Companies that join Ceres must commit to engage with shareholders and other stakeholders on sustainability issues, to report publicly on sustainability performance and to make additional sustainability improvements.

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