May 2014: Shareholders sent a strong message to the management of Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE: CMG) on May 15, with roughly one in three votes cast in favor of a request for a sustainability report. The proposal received a 31.3% vote, representing $3.5 billion.
The shareholder proposal, filed by Trillium Asset Management LLC and Domini Social Investments,as co-filer, requested the Board of Directors to:
issue an annual sustainability report describing the company’sshort- and long-term responses to ESG-related issues. The report should include objective quantitative indicators and goals relating to each issue where feasible, be prepared at a reasonable cost, omit proprietary information, and be made available to shareholders by October 2014.
Shareholders also registered strong discontent with Chipotle’s executive compensation package, with 77% opposing the plan through a non-binding ‘say on pay’ proposal.
“Chipotle peers including Starbucks, Dunkin Brands and McDonald’s are identifying relevant ESG factors and addressing them through sustainability reports. Chipotle’s reluctance to devote resources to evaluate ESG risks and opportunities is shortsighted in light of results of our sustainability reporting proposal and the overwhelming rejection of outsized pay packages,” said Susan Baker of Trillium. Knowing that some of its largest shareholders are not happy with the Board’s governance practices this is an opportune time for management to show strategic leadership and raise the level of disclosure on its sustainability performance,” Baker continued.
“Chipotle has branded itself as a “greener” restaurant chain, with a creative, high profile ad campaign targeting industrial agriculture. Sustainability is clearly a core aspect of the Chipotle brand. Unfortunately, the company is reluctant to share meaningful data with its investors on these efforts, exposing itself to charges of “greenwashing.” Investors should not have to base investment decisions on clever advertising. We expect more from a company of Chipotle’s size and impact,” said Adam Kanzer, Managing Director & General Counsel of. “Sustainability reporting can help companies and investors understand and manage the short, medium and long-term risks and opportunities presented by a range of issues, from climate change to worker health and safety.”
According to the Governance & Accountability Institute, as of May 2012, more than one-half, or 53% of all S&P 500 companies have issued a sustainability report. Sustainability performance has been linked to good financial performance.A literature review by Deutsche Bank in 2012 found that 89% of the studies demonstrated that companies with high ESG ratings also show market-based outperformance.
For more information:
Adam Kanzer – Domini Social Investments, firstname.lastname@example.org, 212-217-1027
Randy Rice – Trillium Asset Management, email@example.com, 617-515-6889