Wendy's Releases 2023 Corporate Responsibility Report

Q&A with Liliana Esposito, Chief Corporate Affairs & Sustainability Officer

Wendy's 2023 Corporate Responsibility Report Cover

Wendy’s® is committed to helping shape the future of fast food – one that’s focused on serving up high-quality food that our customers love, empowering our people and caring for the planet. We work to achieve this by delivering on our corporate responsibility strategy, Good Done Right

Released today, our 2023 Corporate Responsibility Report reflects on Wendy’s achievement of key milestones and progress towards our Good Done Right goals within our focus areas of Food, People and Footprint. To learn more about this year’s report, we caught up with Wendy’s Chief Corporate Affairs & Sustainability Officer, Liliana Esposito.

Wendy’s has chronicled a lot of achievements since beginning to report on Good Done Right progress. How would you characterize this work in 2023?

In 2023, we continued to focus on the goals we set under our Good Done Right strategy. We have been deliberate about making measurable progress and sharing results, all made possible through collaboration with our franchisees, supply chain and industry partners. For example, this was our second year reporting against our science-based emissions reduction targets and we are already advancing against our scope 1 and 2 targets, which focus on emissions generated from Company operations, and our franchisee scope 3 target, which aims to address emissions from our franchised restaurants.

As you’ll see in our report, whatever we can measure, we strive to improve upon year after year.

Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas emphasized the importance of community. How is Wendy’s sustaining that tradition today?

Community applies both inside and outside our Company. We believe we are at our best when our teams reflect the communities we serve, and we continue to strive to build inclusive and equitable workplaces and communities. Within Wendy’s, our seven Employee Resource Groups hosted more than 40 events for our Company restaurant support teams, with a mission to foster an inclusive and welcoming work environment.

In the communities we serve, foster care adoption continues to be a focus as part of our founder’s legacy. In 2023, total annual fundraising efforts, including Frosty® Boo! Books® and Frosty Key Tags, raised more than $27 million for the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption®. Our 30 years of championing foster care adoption stands alongside our support for other national and locally based causes that make a difference in the areas of hunger, youth development and community-building.

How is Wendy’s continuing to make progress in food sourcing, quality and safety to meet the Company’s emphasis on high-quality, fresh ingredients?

A rigorous food safety and quality program is the foundation of our food strategy and our culture of food safety. This year, we continued our Restaurant Food Safety Assessments (FSAs) program in partnership with EcoSure, conducting more than 12,000 FSAs at Wendy’s restaurants across the globe. These assessments help to ensure Wendy’s restaurant operators around the globe build food-safe behaviors and adhere to best-in-class food safety and operational procedures.

Our responsibility isn’t limited to what happens inside our restaurants, as we use ingredients from a vast array of farmers and suppliers in our menu items. That’s why we partner with our suppliers to establish and adhere to strict standards, which we affirm via audits conducted by third parties and Wendy’s quality assurance experts, and why we set and are diligently working toward our responsible sourcing goal. Additionally, our investments in new technologies and systems underpin these efforts and make tracking and monitoring this work even more efficient and reliable.

What role do franchisees play in supporting Good Done Right progress to drive emissions reductions?

Our relationships with franchise partners play a pivotal role in advancing our Good Done Right strategy. Our franchise partners' active involvement in reducing Wendy’s scope 3 emissions is just one way our collaboration supports and brings us closer to our goals.

In 2023, we more than doubled the number of franchisees enrolled in the Wendy’s Energy Challenge (WEC) compared to 2022. Franchisees participating in WEC are showing incredible progress in reducing their energy consumption, which improves their restaurant economics, while also contributing to a decrease in Wendy’s scope 3 emissions. This year, we celebrated several franchisees for achieving a 20% or greater energy reduction from their base year. 

In addition to realizing energy efficiency improvements, our franchisees are also beginning to source renewable energy through participation in Ampion’s community solar program with bundled renewable energy certificates (RECs). Nearly 40 franchise-operated restaurants in New York and Illinois are enrolled to begin sourcing solar energy this year, and we’re excited to recruit franchisees in Massachusetts once more solar capacity becomes available. This is in addition to the nearly 100 Company-operated restaurants enrolled in the program.

What is required to overcome obstacles to achieving your goals?

Partnership and collaboration – within our full supply chain and across the broader industry – are critical to meeting our commitments and solving shared challenges. 

For example, our total protein supply chain spans more than 20,000 farms and facilities, and we only have direct business relationships with a small number of these suppliers. In 2023, we made significant headway in forging new relationships and increasing supply chain visibility, particularly through our Animal Care Standards Program (ACSP). We will need to continue to enhance visibility and traceability, and establish deeper connections with suppliers and producers, to effect change further back in the supply chain. With the strides we have made through the ACSP, our responsible sourcing work and industry engagement, we are optimistic for what lies ahead and look forward to continuing this journey.

We are proud of the progress across our global System and energized by our collective efforts, which we expect will continue to shape and accelerate the future of our business. For more information about Wendy’s CSR strategy and milestones, please view our 2023 Corporate Responsibility report.