A growing number of U.S. companies operating in South Africa are signing an anti-apartheid conduct code, the consulting firm of Arthur D. Little Inc. said today.
Since last October, between 20 and 25 new companies have signed the "Sullivan Principles," compared to nine the previous year, said D. Reid Weedon Jr., a senior vice president for the firm.
The Sullivan Principles call for an integrated work force and equal pay for equal work in South Africa, where at least 250 people have been killed in racial violence in the past year.
Weedon said nearly 150 U.S. firms doing business in South Africa have signed the code.
"I think a number of the companies are feeling the pressure of all the bills introduced in Congress, many of which propose to make the Sullivan Principles mandatory," Weedon said.
"Many companies are feeling the heat from their shareholders," he said. "The issue is on the proxies of a number of companies this year. A lot of companies are saying it's better to think about joining up instead of having it be a big item at their annual meeting."
Only one firm has pulled out of the Sullivan agreement since October, compared to seven that pulled out the previous year, Weedon said.
The Bank of Boston, which held its annual meeting Thursday, announced this week that it would stop making loans to private banks in South Africa because of its "abhorrence" of apartheid. The bank in 1978 stopped loans to the government of South Africa.
Other major U.S. banks have announced similar policies this week.