Pepsico Signs Sullivan Code, Downplays Harvard Influence
Pepsico, one of the companies on Harvard's investment portfolio that consistently refused to accept the Sullivan Principles, has signed the set of minimum ethical labor standards for companies operating in South Africa, a company spokesman said yesterday.
Corporation official said the signing was a vindication of their confection that progressive change in South Africa can best he elected by internal negotiation with American companies that do business in the apartheid state that Harvard have holding in.
Pepsico has been one of three subjects of "intensive discharge", since this fall.
Harvard owns $13.34 million in the soft drink company.
"It doesn't prove Harvard's activity was the cause, but it certainly dogs prove you don't have to divest to have an impact on a company," Michael Blumenfeld, secretary to the Corporation committee for Corporate Responsibility (CCSR), said yesterday.
A spokesman of Pepsico contacted yesterday downplayed Harvard's influence in the company's decision to sign the principles.
"I'm not sure if there was any direct involvement by Harvard on this Obviously. Harvard was one of the institutions concerned with the issue," said Jim M. Grilliths director of public affairs for the company. "But to single Harvard out as particularly vocal would not be justified," Griffths added.
Meanwhile the Advisory Committee on Shareholder Responsibility (ACSR) said last night to strengthen significantly its policy on acceptable standards of ethical conduct for U.S. corporations doing business in South Africa. The new ACSR standards go beyond the Sullivan Principles.
The ACSR is a student faculty alumni committee that advises the Corporation on ethical issues that arise while manager. Harvard's $2.2 billion endowment.
Student leaders of the divestture movement contacted yesterday scoffed at the importance of Pepsico's action, deriding the utility of the Sullivan Principles as means of ending apartheid.
"The Sullivan Principles don't mean any thing in terms of moral behavior It's a publicity feather in their [the Corporation's] cap-nothing else," said Damson A Silvers 86, a member of the South African Solidarity Committee.
"If you look at he Sullivan Principles they don't mean much in the contexts of South Africa. The only alternative is to divest," said Funmi B. Arewa '85, president of the Harvard African Students Association.
"I don't think that [the signing] is attributable to Harvard's action at all,' added Claude R Convisser '85, undergraduate representative to the ACSR.
The ACSR did not discuss the Pepsico signing at its meeting last night.
In two unanimous votes the committee approved resolutions that seek to force Mobil and Southern Oil Company of California to adopt the Tutu Resolutions, a set of guidelines similar in form to but significantly border than, the Sullivan Principles.
Among other demands, the Tutu Resolutions urge that U.S. Companies use their political and economic power in South Africa to bring an end to legalized apartheid through opposition to discriminatory laws. The resolutions also call for massive investments by U.S. corporations in education for Blacks. Coloreds and Asians and accelerated training within companies to speed the promotion of members of those groups.
"The committee feel that the resolutions moved beyond reform in the workplace to really address the central issues of concern," Nancy Kossan, spokesman for the committee explained after last night's meeting.