When Leon Sullivan joined the Board of Directors at General Motors in 1971, he used his corporate foothold to oppose apartheid, the government policy of segregation in South Africa. Since the passage of a Declaration of Grand Apartheid in 1948, a number of reformers, including Nelson Mandela, had tried unsuccessfully to end apartheid.

  General Motors was the largest employer of blacks in South Africa at that time, and Sullivan decided to use his position on the Board of Directors to apply economic pressure to end the unjust system. The result was the Sullivan Principles, which became the blueprint for ending apartheid.

  “Starting with the work place, I tightened the screws step by step and raised the bar step by step. Eventually I got to the point where I said that companies must practice corporate civil disobedience against the laws and I threatened South Africa and said in two years Mandela must be freed, apartheid must end, and blacks must vote or else I'll bring every American company I can out of South Africa,” Sullivan recalled.

  After two years with little change, Sullivan mobilized the companies and more than 100 left South Africa and apartheid began to fall apart. In November 1999, more than 20 years after the adoption of the initial Sullivan Principles, Leon Sullivan and United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan launched the Global Sullivan Principles of Corporate Social Responsibility. These expanded principles call for multinational companies to play a much larger role in the advancement of human rights and social justice.

For more information about the Global Sullivan Principles, contact IFESH, 5040 East Shea Boulevard, Suite 260, Phoenix, AZ, USA 85254-4610, Telephone: 1-800-835-3530.


Issued in 1977

1. Nonsegregation of the races in all eating, comfort, and work facilities.
2. Equal and fair employment practices for all employees.
3. Equal pay for all employees doing equal or comparable work for the same period of time.
4. Initiation of and development of training programs that will prepare, in substantial numbers, blacks and other nonwhites for supervisory, administrative, clerical, and technical jobs.
5 Increasing the number of blacks and other nonwhites in management and supervisory positions.
6. Improving the quality of life for blacks and other nonwhites outside the work environment in such areas as housing, transportation, school, recreation, and health facilities.
7. Working to eliminate laws and customs that impede social, economic, and political justice. (Added in 1984.)