Faith-Based Investors To Expand Shareholder Campaigns Addressing HIV/AIDS to Multinational Companies
The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, a coalition of faith-based investor groups, on Wednesday announced it will continue to expand its HIV/AIDS advocacy efforts beyond pharmaceutical companies to include other companies that employ people in countries hardest hit by the disease, the AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (Larson, AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 5/26). ICCR this year introduced shareholder proposals to Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck and Abbott Laboratories, calling on the companies to assess the charity programs they have created in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in developing countries and to report on how HIV/AIDS might affect their businesses (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/25). Although the proposals were defeated by those companies' shareholders, shareholders at Coca-Cola, which has bottling partners in 54 African countries employing 60,000 workers, approved a similar resolution (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 5/26). Shareholders at PepsiCo earlier this month also rejected an ICCR resolution. However, PepsiCo Chair and CEO Steven Reinemund announced that the company will examine employee programs and policies and identify ways of fighting the disease in regions where the company has operations (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/7).
ICCR plans to call on multinational companies such as ChevronTexaco, Proctor & Gamble and Colgate-Palmolive, to provide comprehensive employee benefits programs, increase advocacy efforts with foreign governments and use their "massive distribution networks" to educate people about the disease, according to the AP/Journal-Constitution. Advocates said they also hope to continue targeting companies with a large presence in Africa, India and China, including oil- and textile-producing countries. "There's a real self interest in terms of the oil companies looking at this because they're going to be there for 50 years pumping that stuff out of the ground," Daniel Rosan, ICCR program director for public health, said, adding, "They can't leave. If AIDS is devastating a given country and there's oil in that country, then the oil sector is going to be there" (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 5/26).