Taking A Stand On Black Lives Matter Is Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporations have traditionally shied away from taking a public stance on racial injustice and police violence. It’s been common for companies to view the Black Lives Matter movement as potentially ‘polarizing’ for their main stakeholders.

A recent piece by The New York Times states, “Major companies are often wary of conflict, especially in a polarized time. They tend to be afraid of offending their customers and associating their brands with sensitive subjects”.

However, after the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, set against the backdrop of a global pandemic, there are clear signs of change.

Have we finally arrived at a tipping point in our American society where Black Lives Matter can once and for all be viewed as Corporate Social Responsibly? Is it really ‘offensive’ for corporations to use their platform to speak out against anti-black racism? In the year 2020, the answer must be no, as many companies take a public stance and use their platform to help fight racial injustice. 

Here are some examples of corporate action in the past week following mass protests across the United States. Companies such as Netflix, Amazon, Verizon took to their platforms to speak out in solidarity, and making donations to organizations focused on combating racial injustice:  

  • Netflix took to Twitter and posted “To be silent is to be complicit. Black lives matter. We have a platform, and we have a duty to our Black members, employees, creators and talent to speak up.”
  • Several Warner brands including HBO, HBO Max, TBS, TNT changed their Twitter handles to #BlackLivesMatter. HBO tweeted, “Neither love nor terror makes one blind: indifference makes one blind.” — James Baldwin. We stand with our Black colleagues, employees, fans, actors, storytellers — and all affected by senseless violence. #BlackLivesMatter,”
  • The #BlackLivesMatter hashtag has also been featured in posts by brands like Nordstrom, Ben & Jerry’s, TikTok, Twitch, Amazon Studios, Paramount, and Starz
  • Hulu tweeted, “We support Black lives. Today, and every day. You are seen. You are heard. And we are with you.”
  • Warner Bros quoted Bryan Stevenson, the founder of Equal Justice Initiative, and tweeted, “Somebody has to stand when others are sitting. Somebody has to speak when others are quiet.’ – Bryan Stevenson. We stand with our Black colleagues, talent, storytellers and fans – and all affected by senseless violence. Your voices matter, your messages matter. #BlackLivesMatter”
  • Facebook donated $10M to groups fighting racial inequality, adding a post from CEO Mark Zuckerberg stating “We stand with the black community” and adding “I know that $10M can’t fix this”
  • In a memo to employees, Disney’s chairman, CEO and chief diversity officer vowed to step up their inclusion efforts, “to ensure we are fostering a culture that acknowledges our people’s feelings and their pain”
  • Intel pledged $1M to be donated to community organizations focused on social injustice 
  • Levi’s said Monday on its Instagram that it was donating $100K to the ACLU
  • Verizon announced it was donating a total for $10M to a variety of social justice organizations 
  • Glossier donated $500K across organizations focused on combating racial injustice