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New York City comptroller tells companies 'to walk the walk' on racial equality

Ross Kerber
Comptroller Scott Stringer attends the Queens District Attorney election night in the Queens borough of New York City

By Ross Kerber

BOSTON (Reuters) - Companies voicing support for racial equality should back up their talk by releasing their workforce diversity data, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer says in letters being sent to 67 companies in the S&P 100 on Wednesday.

"We're asking companies that condemned racism to walk the walk," Stringer said in an interview. "It's not enough to condemn racism in words, systemic racism in corporate America is going to require concrete action," he said.

Stringer oversees some $206 billion in retirement assets and his office has been influential in pressing companies on other issues like adding more women directors and addressing climate change.

U.S. companies have rushed to show solidarity with the African-American community after the May 25 death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, while in Minneapolis police custody.

Eighty of the companies in the Fortune 100 have made statements since Floyd's death on at least one social media platform supportive of the Black community, according to a review by digital marketing firm Klear.

Corporations also have pledged contributions to social justice groups and vowed to remake their own workforce profiles, where women and minorities often hold more lower-paid jobs.

But judging companies' relative progress can be difficult without access to a form filed confidentially to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In it companies list how many employees they have across 10 job categories, from executives to laborers, by gender and race.

Only 32 companies in the Russell 1000 make the form's detailed information public, according to a review by researcher Just Capital as of August 2019. They include Bank of America and Facebook Inc.

Another 204 companies report on their employees' race and gender but use many different formats, which can make it hard to compare their relative progress. Some executives say their own formats better reflect their businesses or show data of interest to investors.

Making the EEOC form accessible to the public would provide more detail such as the specific number of Black employees at a company across several managerial roles.

Stringer's office declined to name companies receiving the letters. They ask companies to commit by Aug. 30 to disclosing their reports in 2021, when they are next due for submission to Washington.


(Reporting by Ross Kerber; Editing by Kenneth Li and Tom Brown)