Hundreds of Western businesses and corporations have garnered praise for withdrawing from Russia, even if that entails a hit to their sales and profits. However, many others are still operating in Russia or have taken a wait-and-see attitude. Those are now listed in “The List of Shame” or “The Hall of Shame”, as titled by its authors Yale University business professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld and his colleague Steven Tian.
The “List of Shame” consists of many companies from China or from the industrial sector with less exposure to public criticism, but one well-known company from the consumer sector still leads the list (also because of the alphabetic order), AB InBev.
Despite widespread criticism AB InBev’s CEO Michel Doukeris has so far refused to impose stricter measures on its Russian business, hiding behind the company's joint venture with Turkish brewer Anadolu Efes in Russia and Ukraine (inside.beer, 11.04.2021).
Soon after Russia’s invasion to Ukraine the researchers have published a list of international companies and their response to Russia’s aggression. As of today the list includes 1,081 companies, grouped into 5 categories according to their attitude towards current and future business in Russia.
- 191 companies (17.6%) that are “Defying Demands for Exit or Reduction of Activities” are grouped in the “Red Category” titled as “Digging In”, including AB InBev, Andritz, GEA, Liebherr, Pentair and Veolia.
- 138 companies (12.8%) that are “Holding Off New Investments/Development” are grouped in the “Orange Category” titled as “Buying Time”, including ADM, Air Liquide, Campari, Cargill, Danone, Limagrain, Mondelez Nabisco, Nestle, Red Bull and Unilever.
- 101 companies (9.3%) that are “Reducing Current Operations” are grouped in the “Yellow category”, titled as “Scaling Back”, including Bacardi, Bunge, Kellogg’s, Mars, PepsiCo, Sain-Gobain and Yum Brands.
- 361 companies (33.4%) that are “Keeping Options Open for Return” are grouped in the “Light Green Category”, titled as “Suspension”, including Amazon, Budweiser Budvar, Burger King, Coca-Cola, Diageo, Hellenic Bottling Company, Maersk, McDonalds, Olvi, Staropramen (Molson Coors), Plzeňský Prazdroj (Asahi), Starbucks, and William Grant & Sons.
- 290 companies that make a “Clean Break - Surgical Removal, Resection” are grouped in the “Dark Green Category”, titled as “Withdrawal”, including Air Products, Aldi, Ball Corporation, Brown-Forman, Carlsberg, Coop, Heineken, Krombacher and Volfas Engelman (Olvi).
The list is updated continuously by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld and his team of experts, research fellows, and students at the Yale Chief Executive Leadership Institute(CELI) to reflect new announcements from companies in as close to real time as possible.
When this list was first published the week of February 28, only several dozen companies had announced their departure.
“Hundreds of companies have withdrawn in the days since, and we are humbled that our list helped galvanize millions around the world to raise awareness and take action,” says Sonnenfeld.
"The spirit of perestroika was wildly optimistic," Sonennfeld says. "These brands — Levi Strauss and Pepsi and McDonald's — thought they were representing Western values and a spirit of freedom and global harmony. They were blind to the signals because of perestroika ideology and the religion of the free market."
"Putin had his pouts and tantrums, but they thought they could just glide through them, that they wouldn't be a serious threat," he added.
How those measure are going to hurt Russian’s President Vladimir Putin and the attitude of the Russian population towards the so-called “special operation” in Ukraine is still unclear. Already in March Putin acknowledged that the sanctions had caused hardship for Russians.
“The collective West is trying to fracture our society, speculating on the socioeconomic consequences of sanctions, provoking a civil confrontation with the goal of the annihilation of Russia.” This “… will only strengthen our country,” Putin said