Shareholders of PepsiCo, the maker of Pepsi-Cola and several other soft drinks, on Thursday announced a proxy resolution asking the company to look into the business and employee impact of the AIDS pandemic in Africa. Although the resolution doesn't call for the outright establishment of an antiretroviral treatment program for the company's African workers, it does ask PepsiCo to evaluate what kind of treatment and support programs might be useful for HIV-positive employees and their families.
The resolution was drafted by several religious groups and religious investment firms with shares in the company, including the Congregation of Sister of Charity of the Incarnate Word, School Sisters of Notre Dame Cooperative Investment Fund, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, Sisters of St. Dominic of Caldwell, N.J., ASC Investment Group, and Mennonite Mutual Aid.
The resolution will be voted on by company shareholders at the annual PepsiCo meeting, to be held May 7 in Plano, Tex. Company leaders are opposed to the resolution and attempted to kill the proxy measure. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on March 4 ruled against the company and allowed the groups to file the measure.
"Besides being a humanitarian issue, this also is a very real business issue for PepsiCo and its shareholders," said Mark Regier, stewardship investing services manager at MMA. "The company has told us the spreading pandemic of AIDS in Africa is not material to their business. But shareholders don't know that for sure until research is done. We are asking for a report on how this pandemic will affect the company's business in Africa."