The killing of George Floyd has created a wave of promises from American companies to promote racial equality. Almost a year later, large US companies are under pressure to make progress in fulfilling these promises.
Shareholders will vote on some of these initiatives in the coming weeks, including whether Wal-Mart should report on the fairness of its wage table and whether Facebook and Google / Alphabet should appoint civil rights experts to the board. intend to do something.
Another frequently proposed option is a racial equality audit that compares a company’s records with statements made in its glossy marketing material.
Proponents have characterized this report as a risk management tool that helps protect the brand.
Tejal Patel, Corporate Governance Director of CtW Investment Group, an activist group that organized drives at several major companies, said: ..
The proposal for a racial equality audit has received over 30% of the support of shareholders of several large corporations, including Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Johnson & Johnson. And later this month, Amazon shareholders will consider a similar audit plan.
“This is an ongoing task,” said another advocate, As You Sow, who has been actively working on proposals aimed at addressing racial justice and diversity, fairness and inclusiveness, or DEI. Species Justice Manager Olivia Knight said.
The current impetus for activists is the response to last spring’s events, where the killings of Floyd, Breona Taylor, and other African-American police caused massive protests and a national reputation for racial justice.
In the aftermath of the uprising, big companies soon issued a statement in support of Black Lives Matter, promising to do more to serve non-white consumers, employees and communities. did.
Activists greeted these pledges somewhat skeptically, partly because the United States of America has made no progress in promoting the highest levels of diversity. The largest companies in the United States are still overwhelmingly white.
At the end of last year, CtW and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) drafted a resolution calling for a racial equality audit in eight large financial groups. Some of them have resolved millions of government investigations into lending discrimination in recent years.
Large mainstream banks are also renowned for creating “bank deserts” that avoid urban neighborhoods and increase the likelihood that residents will have to rely on predatory lenders.
The resolution called for a renewal of business activities, including lending practices and political contributions, which would be prepared and publicly announced in consultation with civil rights experts.
“I think it would be more transparent if someone looked into it,” said Tony Smith, who said Chase Bank’s New Orleans branch discouraged her when she needed a mortgage and office equipment loan.
Smith, who works in home care and beauty, is having a hard time paying back lenders who have claimed interest rates above 20%. She said she would file for bankruptcy with AFP.
“If we don’t sit on the money, you won’t get the chance,” she said. “We can’t go up.”
Another challenge faced by African Americans in building wealth for generations is the lack of access to credit and racially motivated restrictions on where they can buy a home. It was one focus.
Patel emphasized that the check needs to be independent of management, saying that the audit template contains reviews similar to those already done on Facebook, Starbucks and other companies. Stated.
A Facebook audit, written by civil rights lawyer Laura Murphy and civil rights law firm Lerman Corfax, praised the efforts of social media giants to work on voter oppression and other measures, but other moves. Had accused him of being a “serious retreat of civil rights.”
They also said the platform should have withdrawn a statement from former President Donald Trump, who said it fostered violence against civil rights protesters.
CtW withdrew its proposal at Morgan Stanley after the investment bank agreed to an independent review of its talent program. After the asset management company agreed to outsource the audit, the sponsor also stopped the campaign at BlackRock.
The other six companies have opted to fight the resolution, pointing out large-scale philanthropy and business announcements that address racial equality.
In October, JP Morgan announced a $ 30 billion promotion to promote racial equality. This includes a pledge to create 40,000 home purchase loans for black and Latino households, opening a new community center branch in a poorly serviced community, and a public progress report.
However, CtW’s proposal is to settle a $ 55 million U.S. lawsuit on mortgage discrimination, deploy a U.S. aid program to SMEs that have disproportionately benefited mostly white areas, and to the Police Foundation. In New York and New Orleans, he hinted at a bank’s “conflicting history” of racial issues, including donations.
“We believe we are taking appropriate action to address the issues raised in the proposal,” JP Morgan said in response to this measure. “At this time, conducting a racial equality audit does not provide any useful additional information.”
At its annual meeting on Tuesday, JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon said promoting racial equality was “complex and we are determined to do it right.”
After a while, banking officials announced that CtW’s proposal had won 39% of the votes.
Encourage major U.S. companies to aggregate progress in racial justice
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