Stay or go: The dilemma for multinationals in Myanmar

Companies are having to make judgment calls on dealing with a repressive regime

TotalEnergies and Chevron last week announced they were divesting. PHOTO: AFP

(THE FINANCIAL TIMES) - In 1977, African-American minister Leon Sullivan, a board member of General Motors, took on a seemingly impossible task: devising guidelines for companies seeking to do business, but do no harm, in apartheid South Africa.

The principles were drafted at a time when many activists wanted a full economic boycott of a racist, brutal regime. They required corporate signatories to commit to equal pay for employees of all races, promote more non-whites into management jobs and work to eliminate unjust laws (the seventh principle, adopted in 1984). More than 100 US groups signed on.

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