Inside Color of Change's campaign to get Pepsi's CEO to #QuitTheCouncil

Other companies such as IBM also found themselves in the organization's crosshairs after their leaders joined President Trump's business advisory councils.

President Donald Trump’s two business advisory councils are no more, but nonprofit Color of Change isn’t calling it quits on the #QuitTheCouncil petition campaign.

The push began in January, shortly after Trump created two business advisory councils filled with executives from powerful brands: the Strategic and Policy Forum and the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative.

Earlier this year, the organization targeted Uber, Tesla, and Disney with the #QuitTheCouncil campaign after Trump signed an executive order banning travel from six Muslim-majority countries and pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement. All three CEOs stepped down from the councils.

After the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend and the defections of the leaders of Intel, Under Armour, and the Alliance for American Manufacturing, Color of Change shifted focus to companies that had not taken a stance: Pepsi, IBM, and Campbell’s.

"We focused on companies that have a public commitment to diversity and public commitment to Affirmative Action that weren’t walking the walk, but continued to collaborate with Trump," said Jade Magnus, campaign manager at Color of Change. "We wanted them to take a stand and choose either to stand on the side of the consumer or stand with Donald Trump and every single issue he represents."

The three companies are part of a diversity initiative, CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion, that has more than 170 top executives on board. Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi said last October that increasing diversity at her company is a "business imperative." Both IBM and Campbell’s have internal diversity initiatives.

"We highlighted inaccuracies and contradictions in the words of the CEOs," Magnus said. "We had very targeted tweets on the CEO of Pepsi and the statement that she was heartbroken about Charlottesville."

Before launching a campaign against a company, Color of Change sends it a letter to begin negotiations and gives it at least 24 hours to respond.

"If they don't respond in a timely manner, we launch a formal campaign and start to call their headquarters and launch our petition," Magnus said.

More than 50,000 people have signed the petition since January, she said, adding that Color of Change’s Twitter account, where it publicizes its campaigns, has more than 93,000 followers. The group partners with other nonprofits to raise awareness, such as Muslim Advocates, Bend the Arc, CREDO, Greenpeace, Free Press, the Center for Media Justice, and Grab Your Wallet.

Although the two business advisory councils have been disbanded, Color of Change hasn’t ended the campaign. Instead it has refocused the #QuitTheCouncil push to focus on the American Technology Council and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who isn’t a part of the group, but has attended meetings.

"We would hope that CEOs would stand on the side of consumers and on the side of vulnerable people and families," Magnus said.

This article originally appeared on PRWeek.

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