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A Post analysis of racial justice pledges after George Floyd’s death reveals the limits of corporate power to effect change
By: Tracy Jan, Jena McGregor, Meghan Hoyer, The Washington Post
From Silicon Valley to Wall Street, companies proclaimed “Black lives matter.” JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon adopted the posture of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s protests against police brutality and took a knee with bank employees. McDonald’s declared Floyd and other slain Black Americans “one of us.”
Now, more than a year after America’s leading businesses assured employees and consumers they would rise to the moment, a Washington Post analysis of unprecedented corporate commitments toward racial justice causes reveals the limits of their power to remedy structural problems.
Artwork by Luisa Jung
In the new commitments to racial justice since Floyd’s death, the companies are expanding beyond traditional philanthropy, incorporating racial justice initiatives in their regular course of business. In addition to the external financial commitments analyzed by The Post, the companies said they are diversifying their workforces up to the highest-paid C-suite jobs as well as increasing their purchases of goods and services from Black-owned businesses.
Profit-driven corporations will not propel transformational change with money alone, experts say. That will require corporate and government policy changes aimed at addressing the historic destruction of Black wealth, said Mehrsa Baradaran, a law professor at the University of California at Irvine whose research focuses on financial inclusion and the racial wealth gap.
In 2020, the typical full-time Black worker earned about 20 percent less than a typical full-time white worker. And Black men and women are far less likely than whites to have a job. So the median earnings for Black men in 2019 amounted to only 56 cents for every dollar earned by white men. The gap was wider than it was in 1970.
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