Coke No Longer a Social Choice; TIAA-CREF Removes Coca-Cola from Socially Screened Fund

Date of Release: 

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

July 18, 2006
Contact: Josh Golin 617-896-9369; josh<at>commercialfreechildhood.org 
For Immediate Release

Coke No Longer a Social Choice;
TIAA-CREF Removes Coca-Cola from Socially Screened Fund

After a grassroots campaign led by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Child (CCFC) and the Make TIAA-CREF Ethical coalition, the pension giant TIAA-CREF announced today that it had removed The Coca-Cola Company from its CREF Social Choice Account, the world’s largest socially screened fund for individual investors.  The move comes after KLD Research and Analytics, a world leader in defining corporate responsibility standards, removed The Coca-Cola Company from its Broad Market Social Index (BMSI).  As of December 31, 2005, the CREF Social Choice Account held 1,250,500 shares of Coca-Cola common stock valued at more than $50 million.

CCFC had asked TIAA-CREF to remove Coca-Cola from its Social Choice Account because Coke aggressively markets of nutritionally deficient products to children and the company’s works to undermine legislation that would limit the sale of soft drinks in schools.  Last August, in a letter to TIAA-CREF signed by more than forty distinguished healthcare professionals and advocates for children, CCFC detailed the reasons that Coke did not belong in a socially responsible fund.  CCFC's year-long campaign included demonstrations at TIAA-CREF's offices, a public letter signed by leading advocates for children, calls and emails from CCFC members, and a meeting with TIAA-CREF executives.

“TIAA-CREF’s decision sends a strong message to corporations that they cannot market junk food to children and claim the mantle of social responsibility,” said CCFC’s Susan Linn, author of Consuming Kids.  “Companies like Coke have two choices:  Stop targeting children with advertising such as in-school marketing, product placement, toys, and contests or become, like big tobacco, a pariah to those concerned with children’s wellbeing.”

CCFC was joined in its efforts by members of Make TIAA-CREF Ethical, a coalition working to convince the nation’s largest retirement fund to pressure corporations to be more socially responsible.  Another Make TIAA-CREF Ethical member, the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke, alleges that The Coca-Cola Company has committed widespread labor, human rights and environmental abuses.

“We are delighted that TIAA-CREF has responded to the concerns of our members and removed Coke from the CREF Social Choice Account,” said coalition spokesperson Neil J. Wollman, a professor at Manchester College.  “We hope that TIAA-CREF will take the next step and use shareholder advocacy to influence the practices of Coca-Cola and other corporations involved in human rights violations, and public health and environmental degradation.”

For more information on the Make TIAA-CREF Ethical Coalition, please visit:   http://www.maketiaa-crefethical.org/

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