Wednesday, July 11, 2007
For immediate release
For more information, contact
Campaign to Stop Killer Coke
Cooper Station, P.O. Box 1002
New York, NY 10276-1002
Pat Clark or Ray Rogers — (718) 852-2808
The Coca-Cola Company and its largest bottler, Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE), do not meet the criteria as socially responsible companies, according to KLD Research & Analytics, Inc. of Boston, Mass., an independent investment research firm and world leader in defining corporate responsibility standards.
This means that TIAA-CREF's (Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association - College Retirement Equities Fund) $9 billion CREF Social Choice Account, the world's largest socially screened fund for individual investors, will ban any investments in both The Coca-Cola Co. and Coca-Cola Enterprises.
Last July, The Coca-Cola Company was removed from the fund, which divested 1.25 million shares when the company was dropped from KLD's Broad Market Social Index (BMSI). The BMSI consists of all companies within the Russell 3000 Index that pass KLD's screening criteria, including environmental, human rights and product marketing concerns.
High-level representatives of The Coca-Cola Co. lobbied hard to be reinstated into the BMSI this year, but instead suffered another major setback in the SRI community, when CCE, along with The Coca-Cola Co., failed to make the BMSI. The CREF Social Choice Account will now have to divest the CCE stock it holds just as it did last year with The Coca-Cola Company stock.
"Such action by KLD is a very serious matter for any company, but especially for one like Coca-Cola that spends billions of dollars promoting itself as socially responsible, which it is not," said Ray Rogers, director of the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke (www.KillerCoke.org). "Because of Coke's widespread labor, human rights and environmental abuses and fraudulent business practices, the company has, like tobacco, gambling and firearm companies, become a pariah to those concerned with socially responsible investing," added Rogers.
Top executives of The Coca-Cola Co. and Coca-Cola Enterprises are key policymakers of Coca-Cola FEMSA, Coca-Cola's largest bottler in Colombia, which is a defendant in lawsuits charging Coca-Cola bottlers in Colombia with the systematic intimidation, kidnapping, torture and murder of union leaders.
The Coca-Cola Co. recently reached new lows in corporate irresponsibility when according to the Sydney Morning Herald (6/6/07), "Employers led by a Coca-Cola executive [Director of Global Labor Relations Ed Potter] stopped the International Labour Organization examining violations of workplace rights in Colombia..."
"Adding to its record of irresponsibility," said Ray Rogers, "is Coca-Cola's irresponsible marketing ploys worldwide that undermine the health of children. Coke continues to try to lure youngsters to mass consumption of its soft drinks that health experts point out fuel the obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes epidemic in young people.
Recent articles appeared in the press regarding Coke's decision to create a "virtual teenager hangout like MySpace and Facebook... on cellphones" to "lure more youngsters to its sodas and flavored drinks" according to The Wall Street Journal (6/7/07).
And Denis Sison, Sprite Global Brand Director stated in an article in Monsters & Critics, (6/12/07): "We know that when it comes to reaching teens, mobile is the medium. This program will enable us to connect with teens by putting Sprite both in their hand and in their phone."
In another effort to fool young people and their parents that Coca-Cola is good for them, "Coca-Cola has enlisted scientific researchers in a bid to convince the world that it is actually a health drink. Despite its long and troubled association with poor diet and dental-hygiene problems, the sweet, fizzy beverage is being analyzed as a possible health drink to combat anemia..." according to a British publication, The Independent (6/10/07).
"This seems to be another marketing ploy playing Russian roulette with young people's health. Even if it could be shown that the ingestion of food with Coke could help absorb iron to combat anemia, the ill effects of Coke's phosphoric acid, sugar/high fructose corn syrup (or aspartame in Diet Coke) and caffeine would far outweigh any benefits. These types of marketing ploys by Coke are totally irresponsible," said Ray Rogers.
Now, The Coca-Cola Company is facing a $1.3 billion lawsuit brought by shareholders for fraudulent business practices for improperly inflating revenues to boost stock prices artificially.
Rogers added: "As stories about corruption, labor, human rights and environmental abuses envelop Coca-Cola, CEO E. Neville Isdell is traveling around the world trying to appear as the leader of the corporate responsibility movement."
After sending out this News Release, we received the followinng information from KLD about a third major setback for Coke in the SRI community:
"I have confirmed that Coca-Cola Bottling Company Consolidated was on the BMSI last year but was removed this year...as was CCE."