Protesters face off with PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi

A session with PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi at the Fast Company Innovation Festival today was interrupted by three protestors who demanded to know how the beverage giant is responding to reports of low wages, worker abuse, and child labor on the palm oil plantations of its partner in Indonesia, Indofood. 

“How will you lead your company to address the violations of fundamental rights of workers on palm oil plantations?” the first protestor asked. (The other two protestors were escorted out before Nooyi could address their questions.) 

Nooyi’s response—which put the blame squarely on Indofood—was as follows:

Fortunately or unfortunately, our partner has a much bigger business. And what you’re talking about is issues that you may have with our partner’s businesses that are not related to PepsiCo. But because of your constant discussions with us, we have reached out to our partner and represented your case to make sure . . . the whole business is being audited. Because we believe we can play a bigger role beyond our businesses. We’ve been an incredibly responsible and responsive company. 

[Photo: John Converse Townsend]PM