Business leaders across industries are speaking out about racial inequality in the wake of George Floyd’s death that sparked Black Lives Matters protests in cities across the US.
Floyd, an unarmed African American man, was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis last week.
Bosses of some of the world’s most successful firms, including Goldman Sachs, Apple and Twitter, have condemned police brutality and racism, with some also committing money to fighting injustice.
Read more: Apple boss Tim Cook pens open letter on racism after ‘senseless’ George Floyd killing
In a post on LinkedIn, chief executive David Solomon said: “There’s a lot of hard work ahead of us. The awful events of the past few weeks show that now is not the time to be silent, and that we must redouble our efforts to build a more just society.”
Yesterday he announced the bank was creating a $10m Goldman Sachs Fund for Racial Equity to support the work of organisations working against injustice and economic disparity.
“We must stand up and support organizations dedicated to the fight for a more just and equitable society. To honor the legacies of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, we must all commit to help address the damage of generations of racism,” he said.
Bank of America
Bank of America has pledged $1bn donation over four years to help local communities address economic and racial inequality.
In a statement, chief executive Brian Moynihan said: “The events of the past week have created a sense of true urgency that has arisen across our nation, particularly in view of the racial injustices we have seen in the communities where we work and live. We all need to do more.”
Before the Open: Get the jump on the markets with our early morning newsletter
Citigroup’s chief financial officer Mark Mason penned an essay entitled “I can’t breathe”, George Floyd’s last words. In it he said: “Even though I’m the CFO of a global bank, the killings of George Floyd in Minnesota, Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky are reminders of the dangers Black Americans like me face in living our daily lives.”
“These systemic problems will not go away until we confront them head on. SO we must continue to speak up and speak out whenever we witness hatred, racism or injustice.”
He added he and his wife would donate to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Advancement Project, and Color of Change, and encouraged others to do the same.
Barclays’ Americas chief Richard Haworth and chief risk officer CS Venkatakrishnan said they were “horrified by the needless deaths of members of the black community” , in a memo seen by Financial News.
“While we cannot all claim to understand the feelings of the black community, we are prepared to use our platform to say that we stand with the community in demanding respect, equality and fair treatment. We empathise with the anger felt by the community, and are proud to say that black lives matter,” the pair wrote.
They added that every black Barclays’ employee had the bank’s “unwavering support”.
Japan’s Softbank has launched a new startup fund to invest in companies led by “people of colour” in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests.
Chief executive Masayoshi Son wrote on Twitter “Racism is a lamentable thing”, ending his post with “#BlackLivesMatter”, and announced the $100m (£80m) Opportunity Growth Fund.
In a letter to employees, Softbank’s chief operating officer Marcelo Claure said the fund, which he will lead, aims to invest in entrepreneurs “from communities that face systemic disadvantages in building and scaling their businesses.”
Read more: Softbank launches $100m minorities startup fund in the wake of George Floyd protests
Arvind Krishna, chief executive officer of IBM, took to LinkedIn to share a message he had shared with his US employees. He said: “I want you to know: IBM will not condone racism of any kind, and we are committed to fighting discrimination in all its forms and wherever it exists.”
“We cannot lose sight of the fact that racism is tearing our communities apart. One lesson we should all learn is that silent carriers help spread racism. This is why it falls on all of us to do away with the legacy of bias, prejudice and racism that has led to these unspeakable events.”
“I ask all IBMers to join me in creating an even more inclusive culture at IBM. I encourage you to reach out to your IBM leaders if you need any support.”
Amazon wrote a blog addressing racial inequality this week and revealed it would donate $10m to organisations “supporting justice and equity”.
“We believe Black lives matter. We stand in solidarity with our Black employees, customers, and partners, and are committed to helping build a country and a world where everyone can live with dignity and free from fear,” the tech giant said.
As part of its efforts it said it would donate to: ACLU Foundation, Brennan Center for Justice, Equal Justice Initiative, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, NAACP, National Bar Association, National Museum of African American History and Culture, National Urban League, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, UNCF, and Year Up.
Amazon’s general counsel David Zapolsky also addressed George Floyd’s death and broader racial inequality in an email to global legal staff. He wrote that the “images and accounts of violence, discrimination, and racist aggression against Black people are reprehensible and harrowing.”
Read more: Facebook blasted by civil rights leaders over Donald Trump riot post
Apple chief executive Tim Cook published an open letter admitting his company must do more to tackle racism as the Black Lives Matter movement grew in response to Floyd’s death.
Published on Apple’s website, Cook spoke out about the “senseless killing” of Floyd. “To create change, we have to reexamine our own views and actions in light of a pain that is deeply felt but too often ignored,” he wrote.
“Issues of human dignity will not abide standing on the sidelines. To the Black community — we see you. You matter and your lives matter.”
Snapchat chief executive Evan Spiegel wrote in an internal memo: “I am heartbroken and enraged by the treatment of black people and people of colour in America.
“We must begin a process to ensure that America’s black community is heard throughout the country”.
They have followed Twitter’s lead in saying they would no longer promote Trump’s account.
In a post on the site, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said: “We stand with the black community – and all those working towards justice in honor of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and far too many others whose names will not be forgotten”.
He added that the firm would give $10m to organisations working for racial justice.
Facebook has been accused of setting a “dangerous precedent” after it refused to remove a post from Trump that has been widely condemned for inciting violence.
Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg said his platform would leave the post up, arguing: “We should enable as much expression as possible unless it will cause imminent risk of specific harms or dangers spelled out in clear policies.”
However civil rights leaders issued a scathing statement condemning Zuckerberg. It was signed by Vanita Gupta, head of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund; and Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change.
Additionally Facebook staff took to social media to express their dissatisfaction with Zuckerberg over his refusal to act over Trump’s post.
Zuckerberg took to Facebook on Friday to say he had a “visceral negative reaction” to Trump’s “divisive and inflammatory” rhetoric. However, as the “leader of an institution committed to free expression,” he explained that the post had not violated Facebook’s rules.
Before the Open newsletter: Start your day with the City View podcast and key market data
Twitter’s Jack Dorsey tweeted that he was making a $3m donation to former NFL player Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp to “advance the liberation and wellbeing” of minority communities.
The microblogging site also flagged one of Donald Trump’s tweets as “glorifying violence” after he had tweeted: “These THUGS are dishonouring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen”.
He went on to say: “Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!”.