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Coca-Cola shareholders reject activist proposal to survey abortion law impacts in red states

Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Coca-Cola shareholders rejected a recent proposal by a nonprofit to conduct a survey on how abortion restrictions may have impacted the company's business in Republican states.

Fox News reports that a proposal was pitched by a nonprofit organization called As You Saw, which describes itself as promoting "environmental and social corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy, coalition building, and innovative legal strategies."

The proposal read:

Shareholders request that Coca-Cola's Board of Directors issue a public report prior to December 31, 2023, omitting confidential information and at a reasonable expense, detailing any known and potential risks or costs to the company caused by enacted or proposed state policies severely restricting reproductive rights, and detailing any strategies beyond litigation and legal compliance that the company may deploy to minimize or mitigate these risks.

The proposal was rejected, with 87% of controlling shares in the company voting against it. Voting power in the company is determined by number of shares, and as such those who control more of the company have a greater say than others.

The proposal claimed that women who don't have access to abortion are more likely to leave the workforce, but the soda giant rejected the need for greater research, saying its own "robust risk management processes" are able to address any such concerns.

The nonprofit's proposal also suggested to Coca-Cola that the company cease operations in states with any abortion restrictions, or perhaps engage in policy advocacy.

In its discretion, the board's analysis may include effects on employee hiring, retention, and productivity, and decisions regarding closure or expansion of operations in states proposing or enacting restrictive laws and strategies, such as public policy advocacy by the company, related political contribution policies, and human resources or educational strategies.

In a tough year for brands, Coca-Cola's 2023 operations got off to a rocky start when a whistleblower claimed that he witnessed Coca-Cola "give millions to the NAACP and the Hispanic Federation — both directly and through front groups," the purpose of which was to "call [parents] racist and shut down debate" if they were "concerned about their kids ingesting 100 times more sugar than they did 100 years ago."

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