J Walking

J Walking

McDonald’s failing Darfur?

A group trying to help end the genocide in Darfur has just released a report on efforts by Beijing Olympics sponsors to influence China to use its close relationship with the Sudanese government to end the brutality in Darfur. Here is their report card:

• 13 Fs: Atos Origin, Lenovo, Manulife, Panasonic, Samsung, and Swatch all failed to address the issue of Darfur and the Olympics whatsoever; Anheuser-Busch, BHP Billiton, Kodak, Microsoft, Staples, Visa and Volkswagen also received failing grades, even though all of these companies espouse commitments to social responsibility.
• 3 Ds: Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, & UPS earned only 10 points.
• 2 Cs: McDonald’s and Adidas barely passed. McDonald’s received credit for contacting the IOC and Adidas for contacting the German Foreign Ministry.
• 1 C+: General Electric (GE) earned the highest grade because it contacted the International Olympic Committee (IOC) about the crisis in Darfur, provided a point person, and has provided aid. (In addition to GE and McDonald’s, a third company contacted the IOC, but did not want this reported for attribution.)
“Even the highest grade, a C+, is nothing to boast about; these are supposed to be corporate leaders, but they have ducked this difficult human rights issue,” said Ellen Freudenheim, who heads Dream for Darfur’s Corporate Outreach effort and conducted the research.

Criteria and Points

Established a point person (5 points)
Improved understanding of China-Darfur (5 points)
Contacted the Chinese government (25 points)
Contacted the Olympic movement (20 points)
Joined with other sponsors on Darfur (15 points)
Signed the corporate sponsor pledge (10 points)
Gave aid to Darfur (5 points)
Other steps to influence China (15 points)

Grade Total Points

A (71-100)
B+ (51-70)
B (36-50)
C+ (30-35)
C (21-29)
D (10-20)

It hardly seems too much to ask these multi-billion companies to use their influence to end genocide. Perhaps it isn’t too much for us to stop using these companies until they do the right thing.

Comments read comments(6)
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Larry Parker

posted November 27, 2007 at 2:26 pm

Interesting P.R. campaign, but there’s another government that has had an extremely cooperative (behind the scenes) relationship with Omar Al-Bashir in order to gather intelligence — one based in Washington, D.C.
We need to look closer to home as to why the Bush Administration seems to think it must choose between Al Qaeda attacks on America and Janjaweed rapes of hapless Darfuri refugees. Does it truly have to be their lives or ours?

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posted November 27, 2007 at 2:53 pm

There’s something awfully indirect about boycotting companies that sponsor games hosted by governments that buy oil from countries that subsidize genocide. At some point wouldn’t it be better to blockade Khartoum? Maybe set armed soldiers with unlocked rifles and bad teeth against the Janjiweed?
That said, I’ll pledge not to buy Microsoft products until they file a complaint with the IOC.

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posted November 27, 2007 at 9:13 pm

I’m sorry to say that it was Talisman Energy based right here in my hometown that sold it’s Sudanese interests to the Chinese following numerous protests from shareholders and the local Sudanese community re its complicity in blood money. On the other hand, it was a firm reminder to many of us that corporations are sensitive to their PR image with consumers.

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Charles Cosimano

posted November 28, 2007 at 4:31 pm

McDonald’s, like all other corporations, and everyone else for that matter, owes Darfur nothing.

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posted November 28, 2007 at 6:27 pm

That’s a cold statement by Mr. Cosimano. I refute it thus:
“For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required” – Luke
And while not a Biblical reference, it may as well be for all the wisdom contained:
“Business! Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!” – the ghost of Jacob Marley speaking to Scrooge (Dickens’ A Christmas Carol)

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posted December 1, 2007 at 8:51 am

Why isn’t Darfur Sudan’s responsibility? The western world (especially Europe – has made it loud and clear that trying to change countries by outside actions being forced inside a country is not acceptable anymore. Now, if Adida’s or McDonalds make products in this country, they can pullout and go elsewhere. Otherwise, the world – meaning us – should put the blame for Darfur on those responsible for the atrocities on those committing them dwelling inside the country.

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