4 min read
How Corporations are Responding to George Floyd Protests
June 4, 2020
15+ min read
This week, as the news cycle shifted focus away from Coronavirus and onto another pervasive issue within the United States, companies weighed in on the ongoing protests against police brutality and racism. While some leaders focused their communications on anti-Blackness and systemic racism, others spoke this week about property damage and looting. We’ve compiled a list of highlights from this week below to examine differing corporate responses to the George Floyd protests.
- Major corporations including Disney, Johnson & Johnson, and Goldman Sachs, are committing to distribute funds or make donations in support of nonprofits in their fight for racial equality and social justice
- Corporate leaders are commenting on the challenges we are facing with racism and intolerance in the opening remarks of earnings calls, shareholder’s meetings, and conference appearances
- Companies are being asked about how the protests are affecting their reopening plans and if they are incurring any costs associated with property damage and looting
AlphaSense can track emerging trends in real-time across the entire market, by industry, or watchlist. We expect this to be an interesting theme to follow as people across the world continue to protest for racial equality. Start your free trial of AlphaSense now or log in to your account.
COMMENTARY ON RACISM
CIBC – PR – 6/4
TORONTO and CHICAGO, June 4, 2020 /PRNewswire/ – CIBC today announced that it is contributing $700,000 to local not-for-profits across Canada and the United States in support of efforts to empower Black youth, individuals, and families in building strong communities.
“Racism greatly diminishes what we’re all capable of together. Every one of us is made weaker when we tolerate it, ignore it, and don’t speak up about it,” says Victor Dodig, President, and CEO of CIBC. “Change is needed and it requires action from everyone. This includes listening carefully to those whose lives are different from our own and being more intentionally inclusive in our life, our work, and communities. We are committed to grassroots partnerships to help make that happen and to ending anti-Black and systemic racism in all forms.”
Goldman Sachs – PR – 6/4
NEW YORK – Goldman Sachs today announced it has created the Goldman Sachs Fund for Racial Equity to support the vital work of leading organizations addressing racial injustice, structural inequity, and economic disparity.
The fund will be launched with $10 million from Goldman Sachs Gives, a donor-advised fund that allows the firm and its current and retired senior employees to direct grants to support underserved communities around the world.
‘We must stand up and support organizations dedicated to the fight for a more just and equitable society,’ said David M. Solomon, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer. ‘To honor the legacies of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, we must all commit to helping address the damage of generations of racism.’
Cooley – PR – 6/4
NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Aligning with the firm’s commitment to being an active agent of change, Cooley will donate $450,000 to the Equal Justice Initiative, which works to end mass incarceration and excessive punishment, to challenge racial and economic injustice and to protect basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in America.
“It is time to seek out education; learn about ourselves and each other; converse and collaborate; and stand together as one, united against the racism, bias, and hatred that seek to divide us – it is time for action,” said Joe Conroy, Cooley’s chairman and chief executive officer.
The Walt Disney Company – PR – 6/4
BURBANK, Calif.–The Walt Disney Company has pledged $5 million to support nonprofit organizations that advance social justice, beginning with a $2 million donation to the NAACP to further their longstanding work promoting social justice by eliminating disparities and racial discrimination through their advocacy and education programs.
‘The killing of George Floyd has forced our nation to once again confront the long history of injustice that black people in America have suffered, and it is critical that we stand together, speak out and do everything in our power to ensure that acts of racism and violence are never tolerated,’ said Bob Chapek, Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company. ‘This $5 million pledge will continue to support the efforts of nonprofit organizations such as the NAACP that have worked tirelessly to ensure equality and justice.’
Dunkin Brands Group – PR – 6/4
The disruption we are seeing across our country in the wake of the tragic death of George Floyd is a stark reminder that we have a responsibility to oppose racism, hatred, and injustice in all its forms and to stand with those who have suffered under its weight. These are our customers, franchisees, employees, suppliers, neighbors, and family members, and we are committed to supporting those who are hurting.
As our franchisees and employees deal with all that is happening, we want to make sure we are being as supportive as we can. The Employee Assistance Program, available both to employees and franchisees, continues to be a great resource for connecting with someone to listen and to offer support. In addition, through Dunkin’ Brands employee resource groups (ERGs) and through associations like our long-standing NAACP relationship, we will be looking for ways to hear from more diverse voices so that we have a better understanding of what is taking place across the U.S. and to identify ways to help.
eBay – PR – 6/4
Supporting Our Communities
eBay remains committed to living its purpose, empowering people, and creating economic opportunities for all. In support of this commitment:
- Today, eBay is announcing a donation of over $1.3 million, split between the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Equal Justice Initiative in an effort to take action against systemic racism and injustice.
Q1 2021 Zuora Inc Earnings Call – 6/3
Thank you, Joon. Thank you, and welcome to Zoura’s first-quarter earnings call for fiscal 2021. Before we begin, let me state, Zuora unequivocally stands with the black lives matter movement. Individually and collectively, we at Zuora stand up against injustice. We condemn intolerance. Systematic racism must be fought. Awareness, understanding, and empathy for these injustices must happen before meaningful deliberate change can occur. Now more than ever, we must support one another as allies.
Humana – PR – 6/3
“We are at a pivotal moment in our country’s history, and it will come down to the actions and commitments we make today that will position us for a better tomorrow,” said Bruce Broussard, President, and CEO of Humana. “Caring for each other and respecting differences is who we are as a company, and we do not tolerate racism or discrimination of any kind. At the core of our values is serving the communities in which we operate. The mission of our company has taken on particular significance in our hometown of Louisville that is reeling from the devastating loss of Breonna Taylor, protests, and ensuing tragedies. This is a community that is already suffering the impact of COVID-19. There is a lot of work and healing to do to rebuild physically and emotionally.”
General Motors Co at Morgan Stanley Sustainable Futures Summit (Virtual) – 6/3
Thanks, Adam. I appreciate the opportunity to be here, and I’m excited to share the story. I’ll add just as a caveat before we begin now this discussion will be focused on the environmental element of sustainability. I just do want to highlight, given all that’s happened recently in the United States and the unfortunate realities of racism and injustice that we have seen, I do want to comment for us as a company, people are at the center of everything we do, and we continue to take a very strong stance on the importance of inclusion and creating environments that people are comfortable being in and they want to be a part of and standing against hatred and racism and those acts that we need to — in the strongest words, we can we need to condemn and create opportunities for change. So I want to leave that just as a comment as we start.
Vistra Energy – PR – 6/3
We are appalled by the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others. Every single human life is priceless, and racism, brutality, and bias have no place in our great nation. With more than 5,000 employees of diverse backgrounds, the leadership team and I are genuinely concerned about the racial bias that continues today. As Curt mentioned, many of our coworkers have experienced unfair treatment, inequality, and fear at times in their lives, and we cannot be complacent in the face of such an unacceptable reality. Regardless of how far we have come in this country, we still have a long way to go. More work is needed and we can only do it through open and honest conversation.
Freeport-McMoRan Inc Annual Shareholders Meeting – 6/3
Before I call the meeting to order, I’d like to make a few opening remarks. We are all facing challenging times in our country and across the globe. First, in dealing with the international health crisis, its economic aftermath and widespread and now most recently, the challenges in the U.S. associated with equality and justice. Me personally, this resonates. I grew up in the Deep South in a racial prejudice society. Fortunately, at a young age, I recognized how fundamentally wrong racism and inequality are. Throughout my business career, I’ve encountered prejudices and social injustice in countries around the world. As a company, we embrace inclusion and diversity in our workplace as a strength. We recognize the importance of equality and respect for one another for the long-term success of an organization because it’s just fundamentally the right thing to do. As a company, we are now focused on protecting the health and safety of our workforce, their families, and the communities where we operate and safeguarding our business during this difficult time for all of us.
BMO Financial Markets – PR – 6/3
“BMO will always stand up for a society that is more just, where all people are valued, equally,” said Darryl White, Chief Executive Officer, BMO Financial Group. “That includes raising our voice to denounce racism, every time and everywhere we see it. This is a time to not be silent.”
“We are deeply saddened by the death of George Floyd, and the anguish it has created,” said David Casper, U.S. Chief Executive Officer, BMO Financial Group. “While physical distancing separates us, this is not a time to be passive. It’s a time to reach out and engage in a dialogue, to reinforce the fundamental belief that our diversity is one of our great strengths as a nation.”
Johnson & Johnson – PR – 6/3
As the CEO of the world’s largest healthcare company, I must state unequivocally that racism in any form is unacceptable, and that black lives matter. And as a white man, I also need to acknowledge the limits of my own life experience and listen to those who have faced systemic injustice since the day they were born.
I spent the weekend reaching out to black colleagues and friends, and their stories-like the father who drives behind his teenage daughter anytime she goes jogging because he fears for her safety-landed like a punch to the gut. There will always be a multitude of reasons for parents to worry about their children, but racist violence should not be one of them.
As much as we at Johnson & Johnson pride ourselves on our accomplishments in creating a diverse and inclusive workplace, we must do more. And we must do it now. Our company is committing $10 million to fight racism and injustice in America-a pledge that will span the next three years. We will kick it off by extending our support of the National Museum of African American History and Culture and its initiatives, such as the ‘Talking About Race’ program. This new online offering is a valuable resource that reflects our belief in the transformative power of dialogue and education when it comes to unearthing and confronting the root causes of racism.
Ulta Beauty Inc Annual Shareholders Meeting – 6/3
In addition to donating to the Equal Justice Initiative to support efforts challenging racial injustices, we’re developing and implementing expanded recruiting, training, and inclusion efforts. Our diversity and inclusion champions network are creating a safe space for our teams to have an open and honest dialogue to help us learn about associates’ individual experiences related to racism, police brutality, privilege, and allyship. These discussions will inform how we continue to grow as individuals, teams, and as a company.
Lululemon Athletica Inc Annual Shareholders Meeting – 6/3
Thanks, Shannon. I’d like to begin by thanking Glenn and the entire Board of Directors for their vision and the ongoing support they provide to me and the leadership team at lululemon. Given the events of the last week, I’d like to begin by saying that lululemon denounces the unacceptable racial violence and oppression that directly impacts the black community and so many others. As a company, we are committed to increasing our investment in education, behavior change, and diverse representation, and calling on our global community to drive positive change into the future. lululemon stands for social justice, equality and inclusion, and we are proud to provide financial support to organizations advocating for change. We donated $100,000 to the Minnesota Freedom Fund, along with $50,000 each to Black Lives Matter and the NAACP and Reclaim the Block.
Warner Music Group – PR – 6/3
NEW YORK, June 03, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Warner Music Group, its directors and management, and the Blavatnik Family Foundation announced today a $100 million fund to support charitable causes related to the music industry, social justice, and campaigns against violence and racism.
An advisory panel made up of appointees from Warner Music Group and the Blavatnik Family Foundation will establish procedures to identify and support those in the music community, and organizations strengthening education and promoting equality, opportunity, diversity, and inclusion. The advisory panel will determine the amount of the financial gifts and timing.
Steve Cooper, CEO, Warner Music Group said, “This fund will support the extraordinary, dedicated organizations that are on the front lines of the fight against racism and injustice, and that help those in need across the music industry. Our advisory panel, which will draw from a diverse cross-section of people from our team and the wider community, will help us be very thoughtful and accountable in how we make an impact. We’re determined to contribute, on a sustained long-term basis, to the effort to bring about real change.”
FedEx – PR – 6/3
This is an extraordinarily difficult time in the United States as we grapple with tragedy and unrest in our communities. There is absolutely no place for racism or unequal treatment anywhere, and we must unequivocally speak out and reject it when we see it. That’s why we are writing to you today.
The recent killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and many others are devastating. The unrest across the nation and the grieving in our local communities is a reminder that we all must keep doing more to create meaningful change and healing.
At FedEx, our workforce is as diverse as the world we serve, and we believe that everyone deserves respect. Embracing diversity is not just the right thing to do; we also have proven that it fosters innovation and makes us a more competitive company. It’s also about fostering acceptance, promoting anti-biases, and encouraging a more inclusive society. These values are core to who we are and how we operate.
Kering SA – PR – 6/2
Too many Black lives have been lost in the fight for equality in America. We will not stand by silently.
Gucci, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, Brioni, Boucheron, Pomellato, Dodo, Qeelin, Ulysse Nardin, Girard-Perregaux, and Kering Eyewear acknowledge that words alone are not enough and want to contribute to organizations focused on combating systemic racism and ending police violence towards the Black community in the United States.
Today, on behalf of all its brands, Kering is making a donation to:
- The NAACP, which fights to eliminate race-based discrimination in the United States.
- Campaign Zero, an organization that aims to reduce police violence in the United States.
Salesforce – BAML Global Technology Conference – 6/4
Answer – Marc R. Benioff: All right. Well, before I address the questions, I just wanted to say, really, I’m coming to you today with such a heavy heart. Like many of you, I’m really still processing this, really, what I would say was just a horrific murder of George Floyd. And over the last week, we’ve seen now in America, and people really around the world, which has been quite stunning, cry out in pain not only for George Floyd but also for so many other Black Americans who have been unjustly denied their fundamental rights to freedom, life, justice. And as an individual and as a company, I am grieving for them and we are grieving for them.
COMMENTARY ON RIOTS
Q1 2021 G-III Apparel Group Ltd Earnings Call – 6/4
So the door count, I don’t know exactly, but one of our retailers closed approximately 50 additional doors, another one closed 30 doors. So it feels like 20% of the door count was shuttered until there’s clarity on what the looting situation is. Some of them will be delayed in reopening because they were totally damaged. There was a lot of damage that was done to the physical facilities, the looting of all the inventory. So that will take a while to get back into the business. But there were many stores that were shuttered in anticipation of looting that will simply open up.
Q1 2020 Express Inc Earnings Call – 6/3
These are still the early days of the reopenings. The new reality is still unfolding. And of course, the protests and riots create even more uncertainty about how things will play out. And to that point, we have had as many as 39 of our stores closed since Saturday, with 8 sustaining damage over the last few days. I’m relieved to report that no Express associates were harmed during these incidents
Q1 2020 Tillys Inc Earnings Call – 6/3
Answer – Edmond S. Thomas: Yes. I mean, one of the — like many other retailers, one of the situations that we’ve been faced with most recently is some of the stores that have reopened that were very strong, a couple of the malls were shut down because of the protests that are going on. So there’s a type of thing like that, but I’m expecting it to stabilize over the period of the next few weeks, and we should be okay.
Empire State Realty Trust Inc at NAREIT REITWeek (Virtual) – 6/3
And I look at how our own teams as I toured all our properties yesterday morning after the looting of the prior evening, and saw such an incredible group of amazingly motivated, functional, on top of it people from union folks to nonunion folks, many of whom were overnight in the buildings, protecting our buildings, standing guard standing watch while this went on. Last night was much better, by the way, on the street, the police did a much better job.
National Retail Properties Inc at NAREIT REITWeek (Virtual) – 6/2
Answer – Kevin B. Habicht: None really. I’ll hit a couple, I guess, along the way here as they came in. A question regarding whether the protests have impacted our properties. Not really. We have reports of one store in the Minneapolis area that was impacted by the looting and rioting. Keep in mind that our stores generally are in suburbia south. And so that’s — versus where a lot of the looting and rioting issues are more urban and dense areas. And so we don’t anticipate many issues there. And also, keep in mind that our properties are triple-net leases, and so it’s a tenant’s responsibility to put them back in good order again. So we don’t anticipate any issues from the protests.
Heartland Express Inc – UBS Global Industrials and Transportation Conference (Virtual) – 6/2
I mean just this George Floyd incident that happened last week, now we’ve got all these riots going on, and drivers are scared to go and deliver in Atlanta at 11:00 at night or Dallas or Chicago or L.A., so there’s a fear factor as well with some of these drivers out there, too. So we’ve just got a lot of curveballs and so does the whole industry right now. So we’re going to try to keep where we’re at. And if conditions get better in terms of the riots, in terms of people getting back to work, certainly, we’ll look at growing our fleet in the second half. But right now, we’re just concentrating on just trying to keep a balance going for our whole fleet.
Franklin Street Properties – PR – 6/2
The Company further reported that, to date, none of its directly-owned properties have sustained significant property damage as a result of the ongoing nationwide protests.
C-Bond Systems – PR – 6/2
HOUSTON, June 02, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — C-Bond Systems, Inc. (the “Company” or “C-Bond”) (OTC: CBNT), a nanotechnology solutions company, announced today that major media outlets, schools, and government buildings trust C-Bond’s proprietary nano-products to strengthen glass against break-ins and forced entry. The Company offers its patented C-Bond Secure and C-Bond BRS ballistic-resistant film system to enhance security in light of recent protests and looting.
Byrna Technologies – PR – 6/2
WAKEFIELD, Mass., June 2, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Byrna Technologies Inc. (OTCQB: BYRN) (CSE: BYRN) (“Byrna” or the “Company”) reports record online sales this weekend as civil unrest and widescale looting in cities large and small across the United States drove demand for the Byrna® HD personal security device. The Byrna® HD, which requires no license or permit to own, uses CO2 to fire chemical irritant projectiles containing pepper (OC) and tear gas (CS). These projectiles can incapacitate a would-be assailant for up to 30 minutes by causing temporary blindness and respiratory distress.
Sezzle Inc Annual Shareholders Meeting – 6/1
Before we begin, I wanted to make a few statements about what we’re seeing unfolding for us in Minneapolis. Our hearts go out to George Floyd’s family and friends and to all of those who have been hurt during the riots that have unfolded since. What we saw from those 4 officers on Monday was a disgusting abuse of power and actions that are so far away from our core values that words can’t do the situation justice. Those 4 officers disgraced their uniforms and damaged the reputations of so many honorable police officers. The riots that have happened since are also inexcusable and have led to a growing amount of fear and hatred. It’s something that we need to work together to reverse. It feels like we’re already past the worst here in Minnesota. The communities are now coming together to clean things up and get some semblance of normalcy back in place. I’m also happy to report that everyone in the company is safe. That’s our #1 priority. We’re a family for each other. Let’s hope and pray that we can turn 2020 around and finish on a positive note.
The Conference Board – PR – 6/1
We find ourselves now facing an eerily similar scenario with violent protests across much of America, just as we are emerging from the impacts of a global pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis it triggered. Initially sparked by the collective outrage over police brutality, the peaceful protests guaranteed by our constitution have now devolved into lawless mob violence, looting, and destruction, risking a shift away from the conversation about the very injustices that prompted the initial protests. We have serious issues to resolve, and it will take the reasoned and determined efforts of all Americans, especially the leaders of government, business, and mission-driven organizations alike, to find the lasting solutions that can heal the nation’s wounds. We must restore faith in our institutions, our government, and our leaders. We must ensure that opportunity will be equally available and that justice will be equally applied. And, above all, we must restore the belief, and indeed ensure the probability, that the American dream is attainable for all.
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