Much of Corporate America declared solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement following the murder of George Floyd last year and vowed to address racial inequities in their own businesses.
After Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with killing Floyd on May 25, 2020, was found guilty Tuesday on all three charges in his death, many companies issued statements declaring it not a victory, but a step in the larger fight for racial justice.
The CEO of Minneapolis-based retailer Target (TGT) said the verdict in the Chauvin case is a sign of forward progress:
"The murder of George Floyd last Memorial Day felt like a turning point for our country. The solidarity and stand against racism since then have been unlike anything I’ve experienced. Like outraged people everywhere, I had an overwhelming hope that today’s verdict would provide real accountability. Anything short of that would have shaken my faith that our country had truly turned a corner. Today’s guilty verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial is another sign of forward progress," Target chairman and CEO Brian Cornell said in a memo to employees obtained by Yahoo Finance.
Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook tweeted “Justice for Black people cannot be achieved without radical changes in the structure of our society.”
Today’s verdict was just, but as Dr. King wrote: “Justice for Black people will not flow into society merely from court decisions nor from fountains of political oratory...Justice for Black people cannot be achieved without radical changes in the structure of our society.”
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) April 20, 2021
Facebook (FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote: Right now I'm thinking of George Floyd, his family and those who knew him. I hope this verdict brings some measure of comfort to them, and to everyone who can't help but see themselves in his story. We stand in solidarity with you, knowing that this is part of a bigger struggle against racism and injustice.
The Business Roundtable, a nonprofit whose members are CEOs of major U.S. companies, wrote: “Today’s verdict confirms that George Floyd was the victim of a senseless crime. Though today’s verdict is a step toward justice in this case, unarmed Black men and women continue to die in encounters with the police. To ensure true justice and healing, our country needs to take steps to address its long history of racial inequity in law enforcement."
Former PayPal CEO David Marcus simply tweeted: "Justice has been served."
Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors (GM), posted a message on LinkedIn, saying in part: "While the guilty verdicts in the trial seeking justice for George Floyd are a step in the fight against bias and injustice, we must remain determined to drive meaningful, deliberate change on a broad scale."
Microsoft (MSFT) President Brad Smith wrote on the company's website: Today’s verdict is a step forward in acknowledging painful truths and for the continued cause of defeating racism and fighting discrimination. Our company remains committed to the continued path ahead.
Anthony Noto, CEO of fintech company SoFi, wrote the verdict should be a call for "further action":
Our justice system has prevailed today. Let today's verdict not only be relief, but a demand for further action to end systemic racism & social injustices. Sending our prayers and love to the family of George Floyd.
— Anthony Noto (@anthonynoto) April 20, 2021
Ecolab (ECL), a water and food safety company based in Minnesota, tweeted:
While the trial of the murder of George Floyd has concluded, the pain that we feel over the murder of Mr. Floyd – and many other Black Americans – remains. We will keep striving to achieve greater racial equity & social justice.https://t.co/v2zh7pMQuq
— Ecolab (@Ecolab) April 20, 2021
Sports leagues also issued statements following the verdict, including the NBA, NHL and NFL.
The NBA said "there's much more work to be done" and will "redouble our efforts to advocate for meaningful change in the areas of criminal justice and policing."
The following was released by the NBA. pic.twitter.com/taSKKJa2Sc
— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) April 20, 2021
National Hockey League Statement following today’s verdict in Minneapolis. pic.twitter.com/hODghaQ25H
— NHL (@NHL) April 20, 2021
MLS Statement on Trial in Minnesota: pic.twitter.com/rpITFz84te
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) April 20, 2021
Floyd’s murder sparked months of worldwide social justice protests and ignited a kind of reckoning in the U.S. particularly focusing on law enforcement’s treatment of people of color.
Dozens of companies and their executives — usually hesitant to take a political stand for fear of alienating customers — pledged to address systemic racial injustice following Floyd's death. They vowed to make changes within their own institutions, to create a more inclusive corporate culture, and donated millions of dollars to organizations dedicated to racial justice, such as the NAACP and Black Lives Matter Foundation.