The death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man killed by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin after a convenience store clerk called authorities over a counterfeit $20 bill, set in motion protests and activism the world over. This activism and the demands from employees calling for accountability would seed into corporate strategy.
On the eve of the first anniversary of George Floyd’s death, a study by Creative Investment Research has found that American companies have committed $50 billion towards racial equity since Floyd’s death. The research firm estimates that only $250 million, or 0.5 percent, of financial commitments, have been honored one year later, with many of the commitments pledged by corporations expected to play out over the next few years.
What started as a convenience store clerk calling in a counterfeit $20 bill ended with former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds as fellow officers watched and onlookers filmed the life leave his body.
Since Floyd’s murder, the world has begun more closely tracking changes in racial equity and justice, including The Plug, which created a database of all the tech companies making commitments towards racial equity. Similarly, a new study from DEI insights platform Blendoor found that all those tech companies that made Black Lives Matter pledges had on average 20 percent fewer Black employees than companies that did not make pledges.
Tech companies were not the only organizations to commit to changes that have yet to fully materialize. The private equity world also set goals to fund more Black founders, yet funding allocation has grown worse. Only 0.67 percent of venture funding went to Black founders in 2020 compared to a similar amount as the year before, according to Crunchbase.
The private sector has also conducted audits on its representation of Black workers and the data is discouraging. A McKinsey study published in February found that, at the current pace of progress, it would take 95 years for Black professionals to achieve representation parity across private-sector jobs in the U.S.
Private lives have also been impacted by watching murderous violence inflicted on Black bodies repeatedly. Black people have had to “call in Black” from work to take a break from pretending to be okay and are exhibiting symptoms of burnout at higher rates than their white counterparts. Over one-third of BIPOC employees in a recent Society of Human Resource Management survey indicated feeling the symptoms of burnout compared to 26 percent of white employees. This epidemic has been compounded by the way the coronavirus is disproportionately impacting communities of color.
Floyd’s legacy seems to have touched nearly every facade of American business and has made the masses reevaluate their financial and general support of companies and causes working to further the kind of world in which Floyd, and countless others whose lives were cut short by police, might still be alive.
The hope remains for a continued and renewed commitment to Black lives and the means of livelihoods that we represent across our reporting and in all the work we do here at The Plug.