‘We Must Do More’ What CEOs Like Tim Cook, Jamie Dimon, Larry Fink Say About Racial Inequality Protests

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Topline: In a time of national unrest, outrage and chaos, here’s what CEOs of major public companies—who are disproportionately white men—say to their employees and to the public:

Kenneth Frazier, CEO of Merck on CNBC

What the African American community sees in that videotape is that this African American man, who could be me or any other African American man, is being treated as less than human..Even though we don’t have laws that separate people on the basis of race anymore, we still have customs, we still have beliefs, we still have policies and practices that lead to inequities.

Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase via LinkedIn

The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to reverberate within our neighborhoods, workplaces and homes and throughout our economy. In my annual letter to shareholders last month, we described the actions our firm is taking to support our employees, customers and communities. Things are changing quickly, so I wanted to update you on our recent efforts. I also want to share how we are thinking about and preparing for not only the safe re-opening of our economy, but also laying the foundation for an inclusive recovery that unlocks economic opportunity for more people.

From the outset, our priority has been to continue to provide uninterrupted service to our clients and customers, while supporting and providing a safe work environment for our employees and helping those communities hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Responding to the needs of our customers and clients

To help customers who have told us they are struggling financially, we have made it easy to enroll in a payment assistance program. To date, we have provided assistance to over 1.5 million customer accounts, including delaying payments and refunding fees across our business banking, home lending, credit card, deposit and auto lease and loan accounts. And, we are quickly and prudently putting our capital and liquidity to work to help our clients – large and small – weather the crisis, pay their workers and bills, and provide the essential goods and services on which we all depend.

Included in this, are hundreds of thousands of homeowners we’ve helped by delaying their mortgage payments for at least three months. They won’t be charged a late fee or penalty during this time. We are also available to discuss extensions for many customers who need more time to recover, and upon request and if eligible, we can add the option to move missed payments to the end of their mortgage term.

In March and April, we approved more than $45 billion in new credit for our clients impacted by COVID-19. This included more than $6 billion to hospitals and healthcare companies, educational institutions, nonprofits and state and local governments. For example, we worked with NewYork-Presbyterian Health System – which has seen a significant increase in overnight patients as a result of COVID-19 – to increase their line of credit so they could acquire vital medical supplies and equipment and bring on additional staff.

We’ve also assisted our corporate clients in raising capital, including many in industries that have been hard hit by the pandemic, from healthcare to travel and transportation. Year to date, we’ve helped clients raise $664 billion in investment grade financing, and also provided $104 billion of high yield financing.

Additionally, during the first 60 days of the crisis, we extended $950 million in new loans for our small business clients, such as Kids Klub Child Development Centers, which offer preschool, daycare and after school programming. The Los Angeles-based company was in the middle of constructing a new location in Seattle when the crisis hit. We worked with them to accelerate access to critically needed funds to finish construction and continue paying their 200 employees while they closed down and revamped their centers to provide care for children of essential workers. We’ve also worked to help as many of our customers as possible receive loans through the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). For example, we helped the Jupiter Hotel in Portland, Oregon maintain its workforce as they converted 81 rooms into a shelter for homeless individuals with underlying health conditions or respiratory symptoms but who have not tested positive for COVID-19. We also helped the South Florida Cancer Association keep drivers on their payroll who transport underprivileged people to their radiation and chemotherapy treatments.

Since the beginning of PPP, we funded a total of more than $30 billion to over 250,000 businesses, helping to support more than 3 million employees. The average loan amount was roughly $122,000 and half of those loans went to companies with fewer than 5 employees.

 Helping the most vulnerable in our communities

 We are using data-driven solutions to help some of the hardest hit communities get through the pandemic – and to help them recover when it’s over. So far, this includes a $250 million global business and philanthropic commitment to support vulnerable and underrepresented communities, existing nonprofit partners and underserved small businesses.

We know that many small businesses are at risk of being locked out of the resources they desperately need to stay afloat – that’s why $200 million of our commitment is to help underserved small businesses and nonprofits access low-cost capital through community partners. For example, this includes $50 million to Grow America Fund, a Community Development Financial Institution, so they can help small businesses in underserved communities cover expenses such as rent and employee salaries.

 We are also providing $50 million in philanthropic support to nonprofits working to help communities and people hit hardest by this public health crisis. For example, we provided support to enable the Healthcare Advancement Program (H-CAP) to implement new training programs focused on crisis care and infectious disease preparedness. Our firm has partnered with H-CAP over the last several years to train workers for jobs in the healthcare sector, and now these new training programs will prepare workers in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and other cities across the U.S. to fill the shortage of clinical care professionals needed to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

And we’re also finding other ways we can help in our communities. For example, we are collaborating with Marriott and others to provide up to $10 million worth of hotel stays for healthcare professionals fighting COVID-19 in the United States. The initiative is providing free rooms to first responders in locations such as New York City, New Orleans, Chicago and Detroit.

 Supporting our employees as we move toward re-opening our economy

 Our employees’ safety and wellbeing is a top priority, and we’ve taken extensive steps to support them during the crisis, including extra time off for all and expanding access to medical resources, internally and externally. As we continue to address the immediate health and humanitarian impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the public and private sectors are developing longer-term plans to re-open our economy. Protecting people’s safety is important, which is why we must look to public health officials to guide the timing and sequencing for lifting restrictions. Securing the proper amount of equipment, testing and monitoring, hospital capacity and other tools and processes in place will be essential in giving people confidence they can safely return to work, school and other public spaces.

As we develop our strategy for returning more employees to working on-site, the two principal considerations driving our approach are using the latest data and information to do it at the right time – which may differ by region, state and country – and prioritizing the health and safety of our employees. We are working to identify what changes may be needed to achieve this objective, including reviewing our current office configurations and protocols. We are also coordinating with and seeking guidance from government entities and health authorities. 

Rebuilding a more inclusive economy

In the midst of today’s uncertainties and the acute impacts – with unemployment high and little economic activity – it’s hard to plan for the future. Yet to lay the foundation for the kind of recovery we need, it is critical we do so. It is my fervent hope that we use this crisis as a catalyst to rebuild an economy that creates and sustains opportunity for dramatically more people, especially those who have been left behind for too long. The last few months have laid bare the reality that, even before the pandemic hit, far too many people were living on the edge. Unfortunately, low-income communities and people of color are being hit the hardest, exacerbating the health and economic inequities that were already unacceptably pronounced before the virus took over.

An inclusive economy – in which there is widespread access to opportunity – is a stronger, more resilient economy. This crisis must serve as a wake-up call and a call to action for business and government to think, act and invest for the common good and confront the structural obstacles that have inhibited inclusive economic growth for years. From the re-opening of small businesses to the rehiring of workers, let’s leverage this moment to think creatively about how we can mobilize to address so many issues that inhibit the creation of an inclusive economy and fray our social fabric. We look forward to sharing more ideas soon for how to do this. By doing the right thing during times of crisis, we can emerge stronger and more cohesive in its wake.

Finally, we are proud that our firm has been well equipped to quickly step up and provide significant resources and support because we entered this crisis in a position of strength. This is a direct result of the actions and investments we’ve made over many years to build a strong, resilient company. We believe it’s our responsibility to be there for the people who rely on us in times like this. This is precisely why we work so hard to be that kind of company.

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple to employees via MacRumors

Team,

Right now, there is a pain deeply etched in the soul of our nation and in the hearts of millions. To stand together, we must stand up for one another, and recognize the fear, hurt, and outrage rightly provoked by the senseless killing of George Floyd and a much longer history of racism.

That painful past is still present today — not only in the form of violence, but in the everyday experience of deeply rooted discrimination. We see it in our criminal justice system, in the disproportionate toll of disease on Black and Brown communities, in the inequalities in neighborhood services and the educations our children receive. While our laws have changed, the reality is that their protections are still not universally applied.

We’ve seen progress since the America I grew up in, but it is similarly true that communities of color continue to endure discrimination and trauma.

I have heard from so many of you that you feel afraid — afraid in your communities, afraid in your daily lives, and, most cruelly of all, afraid in your own skin. We can have no society worth celebrating unless we can guarantee freedom from fear for every person who gives this country their love, labor and life.

At Apple, our mission has and always will be to create technology that empowers people to change the world for the better. We’ve always drawn strength from our diversity, welcomed people from every walk of life to our stores around the world, and strived to build an Apple that is inclusive of everyone.

But together, we must do more. Today, Apple is making donations to a number of groups, including the Equal Justice Initiative, a non-profit committed to challenging racial injustice, ending mass incarceration, and protecting the human rights of the most vulnerable people in American society. For the month of June, and in honor of the Juneteenth holiday, we’ll also be matching two-for-one all employee donations via Benevity.

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. Issues of human dignity will not abide standing on the sidelines. To our colleagues in the Black community — we see you. You matter, your lives matter, and you are valued here at Apple.

For all of our colleagues hurting right now, please know that you are not alone, and that we have resources to support you. It’s more important than ever to talk to one another, and to find healing in our common humanity. We also have free resources that can help, including our Employee Assistance Program and mental health resources you can learn about on the People site.

This is a moment when many people may want nothing more than a return to normalcy, or to a status quo that is only comfortable if we avert our gaze from injustice. As difficult as it may be to admit, that desire is itself a sign of privilege. George Floyd’s death is shocking and tragic proof that we must aim far higher than a “normal” future, and build one that lives up to the highest ideals of equality and justice.

In the words of Martin Luther King, “Every society has its protectors of status quo and its fraternities of the indifferent who are notorious for sleeping through revolutions. Today, our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change.”

With every breath we take, we must commit to being that change, and to creating a better, more just world for everyone.

Tim

Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft to employees via LinkedIn

Thanks, everyone, for joining today. I want to start by talking about an issue that is important to all of us and is impacting and hurting many amongst us, very directly, and very severely. I also know that the every-day racism, bias and hatred in the news today is not new, and it’s far too often the experience and reality in daily lives, particularly for the Black and African American community.

I was reading, just the other day, Ernest Owens’ very powerful and moving Op-ed in The New York Times, and this is even before all that unfolded in Minneapolis, and it sort of hits home how many feel about their daily lived experience, and we’re not insulated from this.

This is not something that you can just leave behind when you log into work. The weight can be enormous, and so the question, of course, is what can we do, what should we do?

My feeling is that we can start by checking in with each other, ask all colleagues how they’re doing and what they need, have empathy for what others are feeling. We talk about Model, Coach, Care for our managers, but it’s actually a good framework for how we can, each of us, be there for each other, and for our communities. We can model that behavior we need to see, coach others on how they can be better allies, and care for each other in times of crisis.

I know it’s not enough to just have empathy for those impacted, for the communities who are experiencing this hate, firsthand, who are scared for their safety, and for their loved ones.

Our identity, our very existence is rooted in empowering everyone on the planet. So, therefore, it’s incumbent upon us to use our platforms, our resources, to drive that systemic change, right? That’s the real challenge here. It’s not just any one incident, but it’s all the things that have led to the incident that absolutely need to change.

We can’t do it alone. I’m grounded in that, I realize that, but together I think we can, and we will drive change.

We need to recognize that we are better, smarter and stronger when we consider the voices, the actions of all communities, and you have my assurance that Microsoft will continue to advocate to have all those voices heard and respected.

That’s why we’re doing what we’re doing with the Criminal Justice Reform Initiative, investing in partnerships and programs, working to drive reforms, focusing on policing.

My ask to each of you is to come together. Ask a colleague how they are doing today. Give each other grace as they’re navigating unseen circumstances.

Have empathy for those who are scared and uncertain, and join me and everyone on the senior leadership team, in advocating for change in our company, in our communities, and in society at large.

Brian Cornell, Target CEO on the company’s website

We are a community in pain. That pain is not unique to the Twin Cities—it extends across America. The murder of George Floyd has unleashed the pent-up pain of years, as have the killings of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. We say their names and hold a too-long list of others in our hearts. As a Target team, we’ve huddled, we’ve consoled, we’ve witnessed horrific scenes similar to what’s playing out now and wept that not enough is changing. And as a team we’ve vowed to face pain with purpose.     

Every day, our team wakes up ready to help all families—and on the hardest days we cling even more dearly to that purpose. As I write this, our merchant and distribution teams are preparing truckloads of first aid equipment and medicine, bottled water, baby formula, diapers and other essentials, to help ensure that no one within the areas of heaviest damage and demonstration is cut off from needed supplies.

Our store and HR teams are working with all of our displaced team members, including the more than 200 team members from our Lake Street store in Minneapolis. We will make sure they have their full pay and benefits in the coming weeks, as well as access to other resources and opportunities within Target. We’ll continue to invest in this vibrant crossroads of the Seward, Longfellow, Phillips and Powderhorn communities, preserving jobs and economic opportunity by rebuilding and bringing back the store that has served as a community resource since 1976. In any of our other locations that are damaged or at risk, the safety and well-being of our team, guests and the surrounding community will continue to be our paramount priority.

It’s hard to see now, but the day will come for healing—and our team will join our hearts, hands and resources in that journey. Even now, Target leaders are assembling community members, partners and local officials to help identify what more we can do together and what resources are required to help families, starting right here in Minnesota.

Since we opened our doors, Target has operated with love and opportunity for all. And in that spirit, we commit to contributing to a city and community that will turn the pain we’re all experiencing into better days for everyone.

Doug McMillion, CEO of Walmart on LinkedIn

Many of you are paying attention to what took place earlier this week in Minneapolis and New York. These events are heartbreaking. There are too many of them and each one is unacceptable.

Walmart is an inclusive company. That is fundamental to our values and our culture. We remain committed to those principles.

At a time when our response to the COVID-19 crisis has brought out the best in us, what took place earlier this week is further proof we must remain vigilant in standing together against racism and discrimination. Doing so is not only at the heart of the values of our company, it’s at the core of the most basic principles of human rights, dignity and justice.

As we continue to monitor the situations unfolding across Minneapolis, we will keep our focus on prioritizing the safety of our associates and customers.

What our country experienced this week yet again reminds us of the need for us to support each other and to come together. Until we, as a nation, confront and address these hard realities, we will never achieve the best of what we can be.

Larry Fink, BlackRock CEO on LinkedIn

Dear Colleagues,

The past few weeks have been deeply painful for the black community. I am appalled – as is anyone who cares about diversity, fairness and justice – by the events of the last few weeks involving racial injustice in the U.S. The murders of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, and the incident in Central Park, show how much work we have to do to build a stronger, more equal, and safer society. 

Many of us are struggling with these events. For our employees suffering pain from these tragedies, I want you to know that that the firm’s leadership stands with you, and we are listening. We will do everything we can to support you and give you the space to express your feelings and concerns.

In recent days, BlackRock’s Black Professionals Network has led a series of powerful sharing sessions where employees have discussed these incidents. Now we must broaden the discussion. I ask that all of us across the firm reflect on and engage in dialogue on these issues. 

We have watched for months as the tragedy of COVID-19 has disproportionately hurt communities of color, as they have suffered more COVID cases and endured a greater share of the economic hardship than the rest of the population. Now, that pain has been compounded by these new incidents of racial injustice.

No organization is immune from the challenges posed by racial bias. As a firm committed to racial equality, we must also consider where racial disparity exists in our own organizations and not tolerate our shortcomings. We can only heal these wounds – building a more diverse and inclusive firm and contributing to a more just society – if we talk to each other and cultivate honest, open relationships and friendships. Going forward, we will continue to develop resources to help you engage in productive conversation and to take meaningful action, and you’ll be hearing more this coming week. I recognize this process isn’t easy – I know it’s not easy for me. But it’s essential. 

Importantly, we have to make this a sustained effort. I am writing to you today because recent events have forced us to reflect on the severity of these issues, but these events are symptoms of a deep and longstanding problem in our society and must be addressed on both a personal and systemic level. This situation also underscores the critical importance of diversity and inclusion within BlackRock and society at large. We will continue to push forward in our efforts as a leadership team to build a more inclusive and diverse firm.

I often talk about taking emotional ownership – taking responsibility for the success of BlackRock and its clients. It also means that we are responsible for each other. Now is the time to embrace that responsibility. Please take an active role in that effort. We all must work together to build a more fair and just society – that is part of BlackRock’s purpose.

David Solomon, CEO of Goldman Sachs on LinkedIn

I continue to grieve for the lives of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and countless other victims of racism. I understand the outrage that followed these senseless acts and fully support the right and need to peacefully protest. However, the violence we’ve seen in some cities over the past two nights has no place in our society and threatens to undermine the message of harmony and reconciliation that we need today more than ever. Here is a transcription of a voice message I sent to our Goldman Sachs people Thursday night:

I continue to hope that you and your families are faring well during these extraordinary times. I remain so grateful for what you’re all doing to collectively help Goldman Sachs navigate through this global pandemic.

Without question, living in various states of quarantine takes a toll on all of us in different ways and I know it’s not easy for any of us.

We have – appropriately – been highly focused on how we manage work, how we take care of family and our responsibilities at home; how we juggle new ways to interact in this complicated setting, and how we operate our lives within the necessary government and health guidelines.

As we all have our heads down, focusing on the immediate needs surrounding us, I encourage you to “look up,” to take into account what’s happening around us.

My concern arises from what I am seeing and reading about in terms of the many who are struggling to manage their daily lives during the strain of the pandemic.

But, it also stems from my concern about the recent deeply disturbing acts of hatred, racism and discrimination, and the broader implications of that.

I am disturbed by the increasing anti-Asian sentiment around the world as it relates to the coronavirus pandemic.

And I am horrified by continued attacks against the black community, highlighted most recently in the U.S. with the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, and with what Christian Cooper experienced in Central Park in New York City this past Monday.

I want to remind each of you that as a community – there is no place at Goldman Sachs for racism or discrimination against any group in any form.

I know that acts of inhumanity – against any person or group – have a profound impact on our people; how that manifests in each person is unique and personal to them.

I also know that this is not a time to be silent. I know it in my gut – and I know it from many of you who have reached out – the many of you for whom these types of words and deeds are particularly and personally painful.

So I am asking all of you – even with everything you are going through and everything you are doing – to “look up” and acknowledge what is happening around us. I want you to check in with each other, and be willing to have conversations that may take us outside of our comfort zone.

We will not let this pandemic erode our culture of openness and respect. To guard against that, we must continue to be aware of what is happening, speak out against injustices and be willing to talk candidly in an environment of honest dialogue.

Importantly, our ability to excel as a globally interconnected work force must be buttressed by a collective sense of purpose and our shared values as a community.

For my part, I continue to stand with all of you in supporting our broad COVID-19 relief efforts which are helping to improve the lives of so many around the world.

Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America to employees via CNBC

“I am always struck at how committed we are to our fellow teammates, to helping one another and to living our values. Core to this is how we ensure our teammates can bring our whole selves to work and be successful. In doing that, we all benefit and our company is stronger. This is how we deliver our purpose and drive responsible growth.

We share a deep sense of pain and loss from what we are seeing and experiencing right now in many of our local communities. Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other fellow citizens have died in deeply tragic circumstances. Many of you have shared with me your own expressions of anguish and anger about what has happened and how it is playing out across the country. I have listened and learned from all of you, from our communities and, for the last ten years, from my colleagues on the board of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. All of these engagements have helped me better understand how these tragedies affect communities of color, and the historical roots of those feelings.

Of course, all of this is happening during, and being exacerbated by, a global health crisis that is affecting us all in very personal ways. The data also shows the greater impact it is having for our communities of color. The sense of isolation and perhaps even helplessness as we live through this pandemic are contributing to the tragedy we are seeing unfold before us in so many cities.

Many of us are asking what we can do now?

First, I join our teammates in praying for those who have been taken from us too soon, and for their families and loved ones.

Second, we can and will build on what our company is already doing. We have already stepped up to do even more during this crisis to serve our clients and support our communities and teammates. This includes our ongoing work to help drive diversity and inclusion, racial equality, economic opportunity and upward mobility, and to deliver on our purpose. One vital activity has been the thousands of courageous conversations we have held with civil rights, social justice and inclusion leaders – in dialogue with our employees, Board of Directors, clients and community partners. Another vital activity is the investments we make in communities for education, housing, healthcare and food security. It is clear we need to substantially increase these efforts, and we will soon share our plans to do so.

Third, we will continue to focus on your safety and wellbeing. Please use the company’s resources to support you and your family, as shown below. These include our Employee Networks and broad-based Diversity & Inclusion efforts, which continue to be a strong source of support for employees.

Finally, as the backdrop for all of this, we reaffirm our values. We will not tolerate racism in any form. The racial injustice we see today, which many of you and your families experience all too often, is unacceptable to all of us.

I thank teammates for the thoughtful notes shared with me and with my team, and for your leadership. We will take care of each other and we will work to make a difference.”

Evan Spiegel, CEO of Snap (as excepted by the Information

Economic inequality in America has reached levels unseen for nearly a century, people of color cannot visit a grocery store or go for a jog without fear of being murdered without consequence, and put simply, the American experiment is failing…We must begin a process to ensure that America’s black community is heard throughout the country, investigate the criminal justice system for bias and prejudice, strengthen the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, and take action on recommendations for reconciliation and reparations made by the Commission.

Eric Yuan, CEO of Zoom to employees via Linkedin

LinkedinEric S. Yuan posted on LinkedIn

Crucial Quote

“It’s time for corporations to say enough is enough; this is unacceptable,” said Martin Luther King III on CNN on Monday afternoon.

Key Background

As protests against racial inequity occur in every state in America, corporate leaders announced donations to help support the cause: Facebook pledged $10 million to organizations campaign for racial justice, though CEO Mark Zuckerburg has come under public scrutiny by senior employees for not removing Trump’s post about “shooting” protesters. Meanwhile, chipmaker Intel and beauty company Glossier are both donating $1 million to Black Lives Matter and related organizations.

Further Reading

Lawmakers Push Legislation In Response To George Floyd Protests (Forbes)

Trump Tells Governors To ‘Dominate’ Protesters, ‘Put Them In Jail For 10 Years’ (Forbes)

Biden Lead Grows 5 Points Amid George Floyd Protests, Most Americans Think Trump Is Racist, Poll Finds (Forbes)

Corporate Donations Tracker: Here Are The Companies Giving Millions To Anti-Racism Efforts (Forbes)

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