Events over the past few weeks, notably the court trial of Derek Chauvin for his role in the killing of George Floyd coupled with the shooting and death of Daunte Wright, offer a reminder that the U.S. still has much work to do on the racial equity front. And while the U.S. business community by and large has said it is aligned with the Black Lives Matter movement, the responses of many Americans to that sentiment can be summed up in two words: “Prove it.”
To that end, the nonprofit Just Capital recently launched an initiative it says will help keep America’s largest companies accountable on their racial equity work over the next several years.
The Corporate Racial Equity Tracker is designed to help stakeholders gauge how companies are performing when it comes to tackling racial equity. At the same time, Just Capital says this project will help companies make the progress necessary to ensure their actions match their words.
The tracker, which monitors an A-list of marquee American brands from Amazon and Microsoft to Verizon, suggests that most companies have completed the easy steps necessary to begin building an equitable culture. For example, all of the companies Just Capital analyzed have issued at least one anti-discrimination policy. Further, close to all of these companies — over 90 percent — have invested in some level of an education and training program; the same is true about “community investments,” whether that’s donating to local schools, or sourcing goods and services from businesses owned by people of color.
But as far as the harder and more challenging work goes, a starkly different story is at hand. Only a third of these same companies have confirmed that they undertook a pay equity analysis to ensure complete fairness in employee compensation. Less than 30 percent of them have disclosed any measurable targets for increasing diversity within their employee ranks. And despite the ongoing national conversation about criminal justice reform, less than 10 percent of these companies said they have a program in place to train and hire formerly incarcerated people.
“Although many of our nation’s largest companies have made improvements in addressing diversity and inclusion, our Tracker reveals companies still have a long way to go to demonstrate that they are walking the talk and implementing meaningful actions that help fundamentally advance racial equity in America," said Just Capital’s Yusuf George in a public statement. “Corporate America has a significant role to play in undoing the racist structures that have fostered and enabled inequities for decades. With most U.S. corporations promising to create a more equitable economy and future for all, we can help hold them accountable to those commitments and ensure they deliver for their employees, customers, and communities."
Just Capital says its research is about doing more than calling companies out on their work (or lack thereof) on racial equity. The organization also has a wealth of resources available for companies committed to doing better, but are perhaps befuddled as to sorting out how exactly they can start.
Similar to how talking about climate change does not necessarily mean a company is changing its business approach in order to minimize its impact on the planet, Just Capital has made it clear that conversations about diversity and inclusion are not the same as getting that work done.
“We are at a significant inflection point where people have really not just looked at D&I as a word, but really the action behind it, and the importance of it to business and society,” said Dawn Jones, Intel’s acting chief diversity and inclusion officer. “We have to be active and engaged and innovative and disruptive in order to make the change that we are seeking in all of our businesses.”
Image credit: Katherine Hanlon/Unsplash
Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.
Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.