Sometimes the largest corporations can make the biggest difference to some of the smallest groups in the world. That is precisely what the energy giant Chevron (CVX) is doing in the country of Myanmar. After years of feeling the heat from shareholders and activist investors, Chevron finally decided to use its authority to do some good.
Chevron has a multi-billion-dollar energy portfolio located in Myanmar, and recently about 600,000 Rohingya (a Muslim minority group) have been forced to flee the country amid increased violence and what the UN has deemed deliberate "ethnic cleansing."
According to an article from the BBC, activist Chevron investor Joshua Brockwell from Azzad Asset Management told the BBC: "There is concern for business assets in the region as well as reputational risks that go along with having your name associated with a country that is possibly engaged in genocide,"
Azzad Asset Management was the first major business to pressure Chevron and firm has asked Chevron to push the government to implement effective policy to bring peace to the region. Azzad Asset Management has also asked the oil giant to consider "not doing business" in the country.
Azzad currently handles about $53 billion worth of assets, including funds from Chevron.
Clearly the situation in Myanmar is dire, yet it is far from the only social-political situations to be solved thanks to investor activism. Apartheid in South Africa, actually ended in a matter of years thanks to large companies caving to investor pressures to withdraw funding and business to regions with blatant human rights issues. I have a feeling that a similar fate will befall Myanmar in the coming years (at most).