The head of the New York State Pension Fund sent letters to the executives of these multinational companies as well as to the manufacturer of biscuits Mondelez, the cosmetics groups Estée Lauder and Coty or even the brokerage house Bunge.
These companies “must ask himself whether it is worth the risk to do business in Russia in this extraordinarily unstable timeHe explains.
A team from Yale University maintains a list of companies that still have a significant presence in Russia. It highlights the role that the voluntary departure of 200 large groups from South Africa in the 1980s played in the autumn of apartheid.
Many US companies still in Russia remain silent, such as McDonald’s, Bunge, Mondelez, Estée Lauder, Kimberly-Clark or Coty, which did not respond to a request from AFP.
Starbucks claims that its approximately 130 cafes in Russia belong to a Kuwaiti conglomerate, and has promised to donate any contribution from their business in the country to the humanitarian efforts in Ukraine.
Mums! Brands also points out that its approximately 1,000 KFC restaurants and 50 Pizza Hut locations are almost all independently owned and operated under license or franchise. On Monday night, the group also indicated that it was suspending its investments in the country, while “consider any additional optionsand promised to donate all profits from Russia to humanitarian operations.
Some groups may have legitimate reasons to stay, notes several experts in ethics and communication strategy interviewed by AFP.
“There are serious risks to Westerners in Russia at the moment, and these companies must do everything they can to repatriate these people.Said Richard Painter, a professor at the University of Minnesota and former White House Attorney.
Some companies may be hesitant because they think they can play a role as intermediaries between the parties, or because they produce essential products such as pharmaceutical ingredients in the country, notes for his part Tim Fort, professor of business ethics at the University of Indiana. He adds, however, “it’s probably a good time to choose side, and it does not seem to me very difficult to do so” in the light of Russia’s human rights violations and conflict laws.
“Gad wonders what’s really going on”
The decision of a single company “not will not tilt the weight, but there is an accumulation effect“says Mr. Fort.
And a company as well-known as McDonald’s can have a real impact in Russia at a time when official discourse is minimizing the scale of the conflict and the population has almost no access to other information channels. “Russians will be able to survive without the Big Macs, but they will mostly wonder why McDonald’s closes, wondering what’s really going onsays the expert.
For Mr Maler, companies need to think about the message they need to convey, namely that “it Russia cannot start a war in Ukraine while participating in the global economy“.
With the severe economic sanctions imposed by broad consensus of Western governments, “This is the best way to deal with Russia‘He states: the risk of using nuclear weapons in the context of an open armed conflict is too great.
Perhaps some groups are betting that criticism will rain down in the short term before falling, suggests Brian Berkey, a business ethics specialist at the University of Pennsylvania.
Other crisis situations, such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, have already given rise to calls for a boycott of certain companies without necessarily having much effect.
However, support for this type of initiative is not always unanimous, while “it the vast majority of people in European countries or the United States agree that what Russia is doing is clearly unacceptablenotes Mr Berkey.
For Mark Hass, a communications specialist at Arizona State University, the economic interests of companies that have so far chosen not to leave Russia “still undoubtedly outweighs the risk of their reputation.”
McDonald’s, for example, derives 9% of its revenue and 3% of its operating profit from the country.
corn”if social media starts identifying you as the company willing to do business with an autocratic addict who kills thousands in Ukraine, then the problem escalates and may affect your business far beyond Russiasays Mr. Hass.