This morning I attended Domino’s Pizza’s annual shareholder’s meeting at their corporate headquarters in Ann Arbor. I was there on behalf of the New York City pension funds to introduce a resolution calling on the company to implement the MacBride Principles at its franchises in the north of Ireland. The equal opportunity principles were written by Nobel peace laureate and Amnesty International founder Seán MacBride to promote non-discrimination in employment in the north of Ireland.
The Wikipedia entry linked to above provides a fairly detailed description of the principles and the US campaign to sign up companies to abide by the standards (which are necessarily accompanied by an independent monitoring system). The MacBride Principles were signed into federal law by President Clinton in 1998; all recipients of US contributions to the International Fund for Ireland must comply with the principles. The current focus of the campaign is to pressure American companies with operations in the north to adopt these principles and put them into practice. (Hence my appearance at today’s meeting.) Over the last 18 years, 88 major US/Canadian companies–2/3 of all with investments in the north–have agreed to implement the principles.
This is the first year that Domino’s has been approached about this. I was present as a representative of NYC because in order to introduce a resolution someone must be physically present. It was also my first ever shareholder’s meeting (I don’t own shares in anything) so I didn’t know what to expect. I certainly didn’t expect for it to be so short and sweet, however–the whole thing was ridiculously formal and only lasted about 20 minutes total. The shareholders (all 5-7 of us) were escorted through the lobby, past the Domino’s race car and the Domino’s dots furniture into a small meeting room.
The principles did not get the majority vote necessary to be adopted, but this was expected. Most/all of the voting takes place before the actual meeting (shareholders can mail in their votes, and I imagine that many do not vote at all) and the tally is reported there. Our goal was simply to get the necessary 3% of the vote in order to be able to bring the resolution back next year. In most cases, once a company realizes that you are going to continue to press the issue, negotiations are made during the course of the year. Many of the companies that have already adopted the MacBride Principles have done so within the first couple of years; some have taken over a decade.
I was proud to be able to be there to represent the principles, which I take very seriously.
It was almost worth it just to go to see the framed, glossy photographs of pizzas that decorated the walls, especially the close-up shot of the piece of pepperoni with warm, stringy cheese hanging from it. My favorite, though, was definitely the portrait of the Indian delivery man handing another man a pizza right in front of the Taj Mahal. Priceless.
There were no surprises. The only other person who spoke was a representative from PETA, there to ask a question about whether Domino’s might be willing to follow the example of Burger King and McDonald’s and pressure their suppliers to adopt humane animal welfare standards and practices at their slaughterhouses. They’re not interested.
And for those of you who might be curious, Domino’s founder Tom Monaghan was not there, nor were the blond, female bodyguards he apparently exclusively employs. Not being from Michigan myself, I don’t know much about him other than that he is notoriously right-wing. I did a bit of internet research on him to see if he might be someone that would support something like the MacBride Principles.
How does Domino’s stand on the issue of equality?
The 2005 Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index gave Domino’s a score of 57 out of 100, up 7 points from 2004 because they added an LGBT-inclusive diversity council. However, as In Between the Lines reported:
While Domino’s does not directly contribute to anti-gay activity, founder Tom Monaghan has contributed heavily to initiatives and organizations that oppose the rights of LGBTs. He is a co-founder of the Thomas More Law Center, which is advocating in court to restrict access to domestic partner benefits under Proposal 2, and in 2001 financed a ballot proposal in Ypsilanti to remove sexual orientation from that city’s non-discrimination ordinance.
David Brandon, the current CEO who officiated today’s meeting opposes gay marriage and also sits on the University of Michigan Board of Regents.
I’ll close here with a quote from Monaghan, who has moved Ave Maria, the Catholic university he founded near Ann Arbor, to Florida where he is currently building the town of Ava Maria surrounding the school:
As far back as 2004, Monaghan told an audience that he and his partners would “own all commercial real estate” and thus “will be able to control what goes on there. You won’t be able to buy a Playboy or Hustler magazine in Ave Maria town. We’re going to control the cable television that comes in the area…. If you go to the drugstore and you want to buy the (birth control) pill or the condoms or contraception, you won’t be able to get that in Ave Maria town.”
He has since retracted the statement, but you get the idea.