The so-called Sullivan principles that I initiated six years ago were intended to bring the actions and influences of American companies in South Africa to bear against the racist practices and apartheid laws of that country. It was my hope that the principles would initiate similar efforts by multinational companies from other parts of the world, thereby creating a global multinational campaign in South Africa against the racial injustices that have existed there for 300 years. It was also my intent that the principles would serve as a catalyst to help change segregation practices in other private and public places throughout the country.
I have attempted to make it clear from the beginning that the principles are not the total solution to the South African problem, and that even if they were implemented to the optimum, the principles alone could not end apartheid. Apartheid is a ruthless, inhumane system of practices and laws deeply embedded in the world's most racist society, and in order for apartheid to be completely eradicated, it requires the combined efforts of many forces, including governments, companies, churches, unions, the United Nations, those who believe in justice within the country, and world public opinion. But it is my firm opinion that the multinational corporations have a major role to play. In the past they have been the main beneficiaries of cheap labor and profits from this evil and unjust system and among its main supporters. It should be the responsibility of these companies to help change that system. Otherwise, they have no moral justification for remaining in South Africa, and should be compelled to leave the country.
The principles were never intended to be a camouflage for corporations to hide behind, but were meant, along with other thrusts, to help end race discrimination and apartheid in South Africa. It was hoped this could be done by peaceful means, without the need for devastating war and the loss of millions of lives and the predictable involvement of most of the rest of the world, particularly the superpowers, that could lead to an atomic confrontation.
Though progress is still limited in comparison to the enormous size of the problem, the principles are beginning to work. Starting from where we began six years ago, at a near "zero" base where blacks were not even legally considered "employees" in that country, some significant changes are occurring:
* Throughout South Africa, plants are being desegregated in spite of the laws.
* Blacks and other nonwhites are being upgraded, for the first time, to administrative and supervisory jobs.
* Blacks are supervising whites, for the first time, in South Africa.
* Blacks and nonwhites are being trained for skilled jobs in ever increasing numbers.
* Black representative registered and unregistered trade unions are now beginning to be recognized.
* Technical schools training blacks and other nonwhites are being built.
* Black businesses, in increasing numbers, are being initiated.
* Equal pay for equal work is beginning to be instituted.
* Companies are beginning to improve the quality of life for blacks and other nonwhites outside the workplace: in housing, health care, and education.
* For the first time, some company executives are beginning to lobby for an end to all racial discriminatory laws and the apartheid system.
Also, the principles have led the way in the initiation of similar codes of conduct for companies operating in South Africa from around the world, including a group of South African companies that employ nearly 1 million workers, most of them black.
In conjunction with the principles, the Arthur D. Little Co. has formulated the most stringent and comprehensive measurement requirements for fair employment and social responsibility practices ever developed for multinational corporations operating in a foreign country.
As a result of the principles, the last six years have marked the beginning of a revolution in industrial race relations in South Africa.
Unfortunately, even considering these beginnings, the vast changes necessary are not happening fast enough. The necessity for greater changes--visible, broad, effective and quick--is imperative. No one is more aware than I that the principles and other codes must be pushed harder for greater and faster results. It is my view that if the principles and codes of other nations are enforced and vigorously implemented and monitored, they can work for change, but in order to bring this about, more pressure is needed on the companies for fuller and swifter compliance.
In my opinion, the voluntary support of the principles has been effective, but is not getting the desired results quickly enough. More enforcement is needed. As I have testified before congressional committees on several occasions: "the full compliance with the principles of all American companies with operations in the Republic of South Africa should be made mandatory by the United States government, and backed up with embargoes, tax penalties, sanctions, loss of government contracts and any other effective means."
There are 150 American companies operating in South Africa that have not as yet signed the Sullivan principles, and against those companies there should be immediate divestment actions by stockholders, institutions, pension funds, government bodies and other fiduciaries. These companies represent 20 percent of the investments of American companies in South Africa.
Of the remaining 150 companies that have signed the principles, one-third are receiving "failing grades" in compliance, according to the annual Arthur D.Little report. These companies should be contacted by stockholders and fiduciaries and asked for written assurances they will do better in the coming year, accompanied by a plan for doing so. Otherwise there should be targeted divestment actions against those companies. Companies receiving "passing grades" according to the Little Report should be urged by stockholders to remain in their top categories, or face divestment.
American companies employ less than 1 percent of the workers in South Africa. For these efforts on the part of multinational companies to be broadly visible and effective, participation will have to be global. I have traveled abroad and have urged divestment actions against foreign companies in South African subsidiaries that are not living up to their codes. I have appealed for strong government action by the nations and their parliaments as pressure against company noncompliance.
Foremost, I see the necessity for the recognition of the rights of association for black workers, and the recognition of their representative registered and unregistered trade unions, thereby empowering black workers to speak out for their rights on the job, as they will one day speak out for their rights in society. The growing strength of the black worker is one of the greatest hopes for peaceful change in South Africa.
It is clear that the main problem in South Africa is not just fair employment practices, or equal opportunity, or better schools, as important as all these needs are. The main problem is freedom, including the end to influx control, an end to the incredible homeland policy, and full political equality for the black population. Therefore, beyond the principles, it is my position that until apartheid ends and full equality is achieved for blacks, there should be no new expansion in South Africa by American companies, no new bank loans to the South African government, and no sales to the South African police or military.
Perhaps the Sullivan principles and the other codes in the world will only do so much, and only go so far. Perhaps the only way South Africa can be fundamentally changed is by massive conflict and a devastating war. But I believe that attempts must be made to find peaceful means for change if it is still possible.
If these world multinational company efforts are aggressively initiated, and broadly and effectively applied and closely monitored, they will have to make a difference.
None of us can be sure the total goals of the principles will ultimately be attained; but things are beginning to happen in South Africa as a result of the principles. They are a catalyst for social change in South Africa.
In this endeavor, powerful support will be needed beyond the companies, including unrelenting and much clearer commitments to racial justice in South Africa from the president of the United States, Congress and other government leaders and nations. But I have faith that with God's help, and with all the forces for human justice--within and without South Africa-- aggressively pursuing their aims, there is still hope for a nonviolent solution to the elimination of apartheid. Considering the awesome consequences and magnitude of death and destruction and international upheaval should these efforts fail, somehow we must succeed.