File image: Racism stops with me campaign. (Chris Collingridge). IOL.

CAPE TOWN - Several companies have landed themselves in hot water this year for racist inferences. Although some of these may be unintended, the company is still left with a smeared reputation. 

Take a look at some companies involved in racist slanders this year. 


The latest racist claim that has been brought to our attention involves South African businessman, Elon Musk’s American automaker, Tesla. Musk’s company has come under fire following a racist claim made by a worker. 

According to a statement by an African-American employee at the motor company, black employees allegedly suffer severe and pervasive harassment. 

"Although Tesla stands out as a groundbreaking company at the forefront of the electric car revolution, its standard operating procedure at the Tesla factory is pre-Civil Rights era race discrimination," the employee said in the complaint, filed Monday in California’s Alameda County Superior Court.

The employee has taken action against the alleged racism by seeking permission to sue the automaker. 

Amongst Tesla approximate 33 000 employees globally, the diversity has not been disclosed. 

Tesla’s founder, Musk has since responded to these claims in an email on Monday. 

“Part of not being a huge jerk is considering how someone might feel who is part of [a] historically less represented group,” Musk wrote in the email. “Sometimes these things happen unintentionally, in which case you should apologise. In fairness, if someone is a jerk to you, but sincerely apologises, it is important to be thick-skinned and accept that apology”, said Musk in an email. 

READ: Tesla is a ‘hotbed for racist behaviour,’ worker claims


Personal care and beauty brand, Dove has come under the racism bandwagon for its advert in August. The ad, posted on social media, featured a series of images that were supposedly aimed at “representing the beauty of diversity”. 

However, they seem to have gotten this representation all wrong.  In a sequence of images, a black woman is seen taking off a brown T-shirt, with a white woman being revealed in the last image. This racial-inferred ad caused a stir on social media, with consumers threatening to boycott the brand. 


In a bid to tarnish the reputation of South African insurance company, MiWay, a former client falsely circulated a racist email from the insurance company. 

Mondli Madlala’s claim was rejected by MiWay. He was then hell bent of depicting the insurer in an unfavourable light. Madlala circulated a fake email to "generate a false and defamatory mail containing racist remarks and making false allegations about MiWay’s claims handling policies”. 

His bitter loss led him to target the insurer. However, Madlala subsequently faced legal consequences for his actions. He then chose to submit a public apology, to avoid facing legal action by the insurer. 

Bell Pottinger 

Multinational public relations firm, Bell Pottinger has been expelled from its trade industry’s association this year. This comes after the firm was found to stir up racial tensions in a secret campaign. 

According to the Public Relations and Communications Association, Bell Pottinger was unprofessional and unethical.  This followed a complaint lodged by South Africa’s opposition party that the PR firm sought to stir up anger about “white monopoly capital” and the “economic apartheid” in South Africa.

Bell Pottinger was found to be paid R1.8 million per month by client, Oakbay Capital- the holding company for the controversial Gupta family. The severity of the PRCA ruling raises questions over the future of one of the City’s best-known PR firms, which was founded almost 30 years ago by Margaret Thatcher’s favourite spin doctor Lord Bell.


Leading education group, Pearson has been embroiled in a racist scandal last month. In a nursing textbook, several stereotypes have been made by Jews, Christians and Muslims. 

Under the heading “Diversity and Culture”, the textbook claimed that Jewish people ‘may be vocal and demanding’ if they are in pain and black people ‘report a higher pain intensity than other cultures’. The textbook, published in 2015 was subsequently pulled from shelves. 

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