Shareholders target PepsiCo over care for its employees in Africa

Graham McKerrow, HIV i-Base

A coalition of shareholders is pressing the soft drinks company PepsiCo to improve its care for HIV-positive workers in Africa. The shareholders, coordinated by the Interfaith Centre on Corporate Responsibility, has filed a resolution asking the company to detail the effect of HIV on the company’s operations on its African soft drinks and snacks business and how the company intends to respond to the pandemic. They ask the board of directors for a response by October.

PepsiCo says its business in Africa is too small to warrant such a study and says African snack sales amount to less than 0.05% of the company’s 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.

Last year, activists targeted PepsiCo’s main rival Coca-Cola, which has since extended medical benefits to more than 60,000 staff who work for the company and 40 bottling plants in Africa. Resolutions similar to the PepsiCo resolution have also been filed by shareholders of Colgate-Palmolive, Chevron-Texaco and Ford Motor Company, but these have since been withdrawn because these companies have agreed to discussions with the shareholders.


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