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Walking the Talk
Color of Change Holding Corporations Accountable to Racial Justice Promises

The nation’s largest online racial justice organization has outlined new demands of corporations that made racial justice statements to urge them to move #BeyondTheStatement.

One year after the murder of George Floyd sparked worldwide racial justice protests and a corresponding wave of corporate statements of support for racial justice and equity (some much more substantive than others), Color of Change — the nation’s largest online racial justice organization — today launched a series of new demands aimed at holding companies across various industries accountable for upholding systemic racism in their policies and practices.

The demands are outlined on a new microsite, also released today as part of Color of Change’s ongoing #BeyondTheStatement campaign. Unfortunately, since their mass response last year in support of Black Lives Matter, the majority of corporations that committed to change have shown that they are more committed to performative allyship than transformational reform. The new microsite is a resource for advocates that acts as an up-to-date catalogue of corporations’ racial justice commitments, as well as the policies they continue to enact that pose a threat to Black employees, consumers and community stakeholders.

Arisha Hatch, Color of Change VP and chief of campaigns, says:

“For years, Color of Change and our members have demanded that corporations prioritize the safety, equity and wellbeing of Black workers and communities. As racial injustice became a national focal point last year, countless corporations scrambled to make public statements committing to racial justice initiatives — but since then, they have not only failed to take action, but they’ve continued to perpetuate harm. We refuse to stand by while these corporations profit off the promise of progress when they have no real intention of supporting Black customers or communities.”

Color of Change will apply its vast expertise and leadership in corporate accountability to mobilize its member base to drive substantive action from “committed” companies under three initial areas of focus:

  • Jobs for Black workers: As part of its jobs programs demands, Color of Change is pressuring major corporations headquartered in predominantly Black cities to pilot apprenticeship programs and other learning and job training opportunities; provide unemployed Black residents with jobs; and earmark a percentage of all job hires for formerly incarcerated individuals.

  • Beyond the Statement: Tech’ Framework: Color of Change released its ‘Beyond The Statement: Tech’ Framework, outlining a list of concrete actions technology firms must take — such as conducting a racial equity audit — to be in alignment with their stated values and ensure a true culture of inclusion for BIPOC workers. In April, the organization demanded that Google undergo a racial equity audit following years of racial injustice and systemic discrimination. After it declared support to Black people and a $100 million financial pledge to Black creators, Google blocked companies from using terms including “Black lives matter” in their advertisements. The tech giant also ignored internal complaints related to the mistreatment of Black employees and fired engineers and product developers, including the former co-head of Google’s Ethical Artificial Intelligence team, Dr. Timnit Gebru.

  • Financial services and racial justice: Color of Change is demanding the financial sector take concrete action to confront and end the racial injustices they have perpetuated for decades. The demands include a call for banks to eliminate overdraft fees that disproportionately target Black consumers; for credit-monitoring companies including Equifax, Experian and TransUnion to implement COVID credit protections via a public registry credit program that reduces racial disparities; for private equity firms to stop their ‘legalized looting’ practices; and for financial institutions including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and State Street to conduct an independent audit of their internal racial equity practices.

Color of Change has a long track record of enforcing corporate accountability. Last month, the nonprofit successfully pressured NBC Universal to drop the Golden Globes broadcast due to an ongoing lack of diversity within the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which produces the awards. The organization also recently pushed Levi Strauss to commit to prioritizing rehiring as well as clawing back the $32 million it paid out to shareholders after laying off nearly 4,000 employees the same week.

Further, Color of Change announced its first-ever athletic sponsorship — of US Olympic hammer thrower Gwen Berry, after corporate sponsors including Nike withdrew their financial support following Berry's protest against racial injustice on the medal stand at the Pan American Games last fall. The organization also negotiated sponsorships for Berry with both Airbnb and PUMA, and also successfully helped pressure the US Olympic & Paralympic Committee to abandon policies that authorize punishments against athletes who raise their fists or kneel on the medals stand.

In the coming months, Color of Change will launch additional demands as part of its ongoing #BeyondTheStatement campaign. Visit the website for more information and updates.