McDonald’s Shakes Up Its Board

Thom Weidlich 08.25.22


Hamburger purveyor McDonald’s has faced its fair share of crises lately, not the least of which is agita from activist investor Carl Icahn. The company’s board shakeup this week could be seen as caving, but it’s actually a wise showing of taking action.

McDonald’s said Monday it was adding three new directors, from Marriott International Inc., Johnson & Johnson and Salesforce Inc. The company also announced that longtime board member Sheila A. Penrose is retiring. She happens to be one of the directors Icahn targeted.

Penrose chairs the board’s sustainability and corporate-responsibility committee, and earlier this year Icahn grumbled about the company’s sourcing of pork. The company responded that his demands were unreasonable. His board nominees got only 1 percent of the vote, according to The New York Times. The company has denied that Penrose’s retirement is related to Icahn’s efforts.

Penrose Praises

Mickey D’s, which operates 40,000 restaurants worldwide, is to be lauded for leading its statement Monday with Penrose’s retirement, rather than burying that news beneath the announcement of the new members, as many companies would have. The press release included Penrose praises from Chairman Enrique Hernandez, Jr. and CEO Chris Kempczinski.

“Sheila has overseen McDonald’s critical progress against our ambitious climate, responsible sourcing and diversity, equity and inclusion goals, positioning us as a leader in the industry,” Hernandez said.

The company is facing some head winds from inflation and weakened consumer sentiment, according to The Wall Street Journal. It’s also had complaints about corporate governance from franchisees.

Loyalty Program

The new directors may be smart appointments, the NYT noted, given their day jobs, or at least the specialties of their companies: hospitality and franchising (Marriott), healthcare (J&J) and tech (Salesforce). As for the last, the Golden Arches is pushing its online loyalty program, MyMcDonald’s Rewards.

Even a relatively small move like this typically gives a company new energy. In this case, it also increases the size of the board and the number of women on it, which is good.

We’ve yet to see a response from Mr. Icahn.

Photo credit: McDonald’s

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