TIAA-CREF Says Coca-Cola not Socially Responsible


8-14-07, 10:30 am

All college, university and other school administrators should take note:

TIAA-CREF's (Teachers Insurance & Annuity Association-College Retirement Equities Fund) $9 billion CREF Social Choice Account, the nation's largest socially-screened fund for individual investors, will not allow any investments in either The Coca-Cola Company or its two largest U.S. bottlers, Coca-Cola Enterprises and Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated because these companies do not meet the criteria established for socially-responsible companies.

All these companies have been dropped from the Broad Market Social Index (BMSI) list of socially-responsible companies prepared by KLD Research & Analytics, Inc. of Boston, MA, an independent investment research firm that is considered a world leader in defining corporate responsibility standards.

'For decades, TIAA-CREF has earned a reputation for combining sound common-sense investment practices with a concern for honesty, integrity and social responsibility on the part of corporate policymakers,' said Ray Rogers, director of the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke ( 'It is now clearer than ever before that The Coca-Cola Company and Coke bottlers fail to meet the standards that investors have a right to expect.'

In July 2006, when The Coca-Cola Company was dropped from KLD's Broad Market Social Index (BMSI), TIAA-CREF divested 1.25 million shares of stock. The BMSI includes companies within the Russell 3000 Index that perform better than their peers on environmental, social responsibility, corporate governance and human rights matters.

The divestment came after TIAA-CREF's advisor, KLD Research & Analytics, removed Coke from its list of socially responsible companies; the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported (7/19/06). 'KLD based its decisions on a number of issues -- labor and human rights in Colombia, environmental issues in India and the marketing of high-calorie drinks to children in the United States.'

Coca-Cola Co. senior executives lobbied hard to be reinstated into the BMSI this year, but instead suffered another major setback when its two bottling partners along with The Coca-Cola Co., failed to make the BMSI. As a result, the CREF Social Choice Account divested its CCE holdings and banned any investments in Coca-Cola Enterprises, Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated and The Coca-Cola Company.

'Such actions by KLD and TIAA-CREF are very serious matters for any company, but especially for one like Coca-Cola that spends billions falsely promoting itself as socially responsible,' said Ray Rogers. 'Because of Coke's widespread labor, human rights and environmental abuses and fraudulent business practices, the company has, like tobacco, gambling and firearms companies, become a pariah to those concerned with socially responsible investing.'

Top executives and board members of The Coca-Cola Co. and Coca-Cola Enterprises are key policymakers of Coca-Cola FEMSA, Coca-Cola's largest bottler in Colombia, and a defendant in lawsuits charging that Coke bottlers in Colombia collaborated with paramilitary thugs who engaged in the systematic intimidation, kidnapping, torture and murder of union leaders. 'While dozens of colleges and universities have become Coke-free in protest of Coke's record of labor and human rights abuses and environmental degradation and the CREF Social Choice Account bans investments in Coke, Coca-Cola's CEO E. Neville Isdell ironically portrays the company as a leader in corporate responsibility to audiences around the world,' said Rogers.


| | |