England: Activists Question Faith in PepsiCo
April 28, 2003
A coalition of religious shareholders, coordinated by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, has filed a proxy resolution urging PepsiCo to outline its plans to deal with the AIDS pandemic in its African soft drink and snack businesses. The resolution is one of several filed with US companies with businesses in Africa. However, ICCR noted that resolutions filed with Colgate-Palmolive, Chevron-Texaco and Ford Motor have been withdrawn because the companies opened dialogue with the shareholders. Pepsico has sought to kill the resolution in a proposal to the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to Mark Regier, whose faith-based investment company, Mennonite Mutual Aid, represents the shareholder resolution.Adapted from:
"We are of the view that the proposal is 'otherwise significantly related' to PepsiCo's business," said an SEC letter addressed to PepsiCo March 4.
PepsiCo maintains its business is too small in Africa to warrant an expensive study of the impact of AIDS on the company. On its Web site, the company notes that its African snack sales are "less than 0.05 percent of PepsiCo's global sales and assets." "The fact of the matter is we have very comprehensive programs that we offer our employees in connection with HIV and AIDS," said Dick Detweiler, a PepsiCo spokesperson.
The issue of AIDS for foreign employers has grown increasingly important during recent years. One in five South Africans is HIV-positive, and several reports have projected that rate to grow in the coming years. Global AIDS activists targeted Coca-Cola last spring, urging the soft drink giant to offer antiretrovirals not only to its corporate employees but also to workers at its more than 40 African bottling plants. Coca-Cola has since extended medical benefits to more than 60,000 employees in the bottling system.
Financial Times (London)
04.24.03; Betty Liu
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.