Business Roundtable CEOs Reflect on the Anniversary of the Updated Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation
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Business Roundtable Commits to Break Down Barriers to Economic Opportunity

Turning crisis into action

Americans have faced multiple crises in 2020 – a global pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands, an economic recession with high unemployment and nationwide unrest over continued killings of unarmed Black men and women. Every American has been challenged by the events of this year but not equally; communities of color are bearing a disproportionate burden, widening an already large racial divide in America.

These crises have shined a spotlight on continued racial inequities in America, which cut across the socioeconomic spectrum. Despite some significant strides over the generations, the events of 2020 have illustrated how far we still have to go to ensure that every person can fully realize opportunity and justice in America. 

As some of the country’s largest employers, Business Roundtable CEOs believe they have a role to play in driving real change. On June 5, 2020, Business Roundtable Chairman Doug McMillon of Walmart established a Special Committee of the Board to identify meaningful steps Business Roundtable companies can take to advance racial equity and justice. On July 1, 2020, the Special Committee outlined proposals for federal policing reform legislation and launched an effort to persuade Congress to pass a bipartisan bill.

This report provides Business Roundtable’s next set of recommendations, focused on six key themes: Employment, Finance, Education, Health, Housing and the Justice System. Although racial bias impacts Americans of color across the socioeconomic divide, we have focused our efforts – as large employers – on addressing the economic opportunity gap, including disparities in access to good jobs, financial resources and quality education and healthcare.

While progress has been made in many areas to curb racial inequities, in many ways gaps in economic opportunity have grown. White family wealth in 2019 was eight times that of a typical Black family and five times that of a typical Hispanic family. These longstanding systemic inequities can have a compounding negative effect across generations, and the trends will not reverse unless all of us – government, business and civil society – take steps to ensure that every American can participate fully in the economy.

There is more to do

Business Roundtable member CEOs are stepping forward to make philanthropic investments, update employment practices and innovate within their businesses. Business Roundtable CEOs are also identifying and actively supporting key policy changes that would advance racial equity and close racial disparities and will continue to engage with policymakers at the federal, state and local level to advocate for these changes.

There will be more to do. Business Roundtable believes the measures below will meaningfully expand economic opportunity for Americans of color but acknowledges that this will be an ongoing process and that meaningful progress will require sustained efforts over time. Business Roundtable will continue to listen and learn and to find ways to support real change.

CEO Perspectives on Racial Equity & Justice

"The racial inequities that exist for many Black Americans and people of color are real and deeply rooted. These longstanding systemic challenges have too often prevented access to the benefits of economic growth and mobility for too many, and a broad and diverse group of Americans is demanding change. It is our employees, customers and communities who are calling for change, and we are listening – and most importantly – we are taking action.”

Doug McMillon

President & CEO, Walmart

Chairman, Business Roundtable

"We all have the opportunity to change the status quo—and business leaders across all sectors of the economy understand that change begins at home. That means doing all we can to make our companies as diverse and inclusive as possible, while ensuring accountability with measurable results. It is our responsibility to create opportunities for people of all backgrounds, and by prioritizing diversity and inclusion we can better our companies and our country.”

Alex Gorsky

Chairman of the Board & CEO, Johnson & Johnson

Chair, Business Roundtable Corporate Governance Committee

“It is clear that equity in education and quality childcare are two critical components to ensuring a successful future for students of color. And we know that a diverse and inclusive workplace is also crucial to business success. It creates a strong workforce and promotes fresh, innovative thinking. As business leaders, we are collectively opening new paths to jobs and career advancement by reviewing our hiring and promoting practices. We support policy actions that ease student debt burdens, increase access to high quality and affordable pre-K and K-12 education, and increase federal support for HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions.”

Mary Barra

Chairman & CEO, General Motors

Chair, Business Roundtable Racial Equity and Justice Subcommittee on Education and Workforce

“The racial wealth divide is a result of centuries of policies and systems that have significantly curtailed opportunity and wealth creation for Black and Latinx people. We have a historic opportunity to rebuild our nation to be more equitable for all.”

Jamie Dimon

Chairman & CEO, JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Chair, Business Roundtable Racial Equity and Justice Subcommittee on Finance

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated inequities in health and has had a disproportionate impact on communities of color. Higher incidences of underlying chronic health issues, including asthma, diabetes and hypertension, have compounded its effects on Black Americans and other communities of color. While the pandemic is unprecedented, sadly these health disparities are not new. There are a number of factors – environmental, social and economic – that determine health outcomes. As employers, we’re members of the communities where we operate, and we will work with government at all levels to help achieve better and more equitable health care and outcomes.”

Arne Sorenson

President & CEO, Marriott International

Chair, Business Roundtable Health & Retirement Committee

“Recent tragic killings of unarmed Black men and women have put a spotlight on policing in communities of color. Disproportionately, Black Americans are stopped, searched, arrested and punished more often than their White peers, and incarceration can result in short- and long-term lost income and limited employment prospects. This can lead to a lifetime of lost opportunities, impacting generations. While business leaders are not arbiters of justice, we will do what is in our power to advocate for commonsense policing reforms and facilitate the full reintegration of justice-involved individuals into society by removing barriers to economic opportunity.”

Craig Arnold

Chairman & CEO, Eaton

Chair, Business Roundtable Racial Equity and Justice Subcommittee on Equitable Justice

“I'm pleased to see BRT engaging on racial justice and equity issues, and I was honored to serve on the Special Committee. Diversity and inclusion are core values of our society. During these challenging times, it's more important than ever for business leaders to step up and use their voice, resources and influence to help create positive change."

Hans Vestberg

Chairman & CEO, Verizon Communications

“Underlying economic and social disparities that exist have accelerated and intensified during the global pandemic. The events of the past week have created a sense of true urgency that has arisen across our nation, particularly in view of the racial injustices we have seen in the communities where we work and live. We all need to do more.”

Brian Moynihan

Chairman of the Board & CEO, Bank of America

“At USAA, we strive to create an environment where all employees feel like they truly belong and have the opportunity to reach their full potential. This commitment extends to the communities in which we live and work. It’s our mission to care for military families, a community that reflects our nation’s racial, social and economic diversity — and the complex issues that come with it. We recognize that there is more USAA can do to help close inequality gaps, and these investments are a fundamental part of our efforts.”

Wayne Peacock

President & CEO, USAA

“Too often all of us – especially Corporate America – let moments of change come and go. The Business Roundtable’s Racial Equity & Justice Roadmap challenges our collective acceptance of inaction and establishes a path to change and accountability. With this backdrop, and with a shift in our awareness of the inequity that exists in our world, I believe we can and will build a bridge to a better world.”

Margaret Keane

CEO, Synchrony

“I can commit that our company will do all we can to support our diverse communities and foster a company culture that deeply values and respects diversity and inclusion.”

Charles Scharf

CEO & President, Wells Fargo

“Companies have a critical role to play in addressing deep racial disparities, through internal diversity and inclusion efforts, corporate philanthropy, and—most critically—through their core businesses. Meaningful change will require bold moves, and BCG is committed to helping our firm, clients, and society become more inclusive and equitable for all."

Rich Lesser

CEO, Boston Consulting Group

“Microsoft supports the recommendations released today, which include meaningful steps across a range of industries to support addressing racial injustice and inequity. We believe technology has a role to play in this effort and are making commitments to drive change within Microsoft, across our ecosystem and in our communities, focused on transforming our culture, expanding access to skills, affordable broadband, and ensuring modern and thriving community financial institutions.”

Satya Nadella

CEO, Microsoft

"Standing on the sidelines of racial and social justice is not an option. We remain committed to full inclusion and will continue to transparently share data to hold ourselves accountable and drive real change. Intel is also proud to advocate for public policy and legislative solutions that combat systemic inequity. Inclusion and equity are not a program or a competition. It's how we do business."

Bob Swan

CEO, Intel

“Our goal as business leaders should be to increase educational attainment for all students. Investments in pre-K and childhood literacy can move us closer to educational equity and a society that offers everyone an opportunity to reach their full potential, regardless of race or ethnicity.”

Jim Goodnight

CEO, SAS

“At Target, we recognize that the fight to advance racial equity and justice needs organizations to commit to change, lead where they can and learn from each other. We worked closely with other leading companies to contribute our expertise in areas where Target has been focused for years, including pay equity, expanded disclosure of diversity data and more. We’re certain that working with other organizations to address inequity in the employment, financial, education, health, housing and criminal justice systems will help provide the lasting positive impact our team, guests and communities have called out for so clearly. And we encourage others to take action, knowing that a united effort is critical for advancing racial equity and justice in our country.”

Brian Cornell

Chairman & CEO, Target

“This is a time for action. A world that works for only a few will eventually not work for anyone. We have an obligation as corporate citizens to level the playing field, make sure the world works for everyone and to be part of the positive change Black communities should have had years ago. For us at Mastercard, this is about connecting people to the resources they need to start their own businesses, learn how to grow those businesses, helping them to provide for their families and to participate in the formal economy. This is also about creating second chances for people who’ve taken a step off their path, but also—importantly—creating first chances for those who have traditionally been left out or left behind.”

Ajay Banga

CEO, Mastercard

LEADERSHIP IN ACTION ON RACIAL EQUITY AND JUSTICE

Business Roundtable CEOs are committed to advancing racial equity and justice through thoughtful action.

Read examples of what business is doing: