What Americans want from companies after George Floyd’s death

Statements of support are the minimum for companies as they decide what to do in this moment.

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  • Ben Meyerson Newsletter editor
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In the wake of George Floyd’s death, people across America have risen up to protest systemic racism in ways America hasn’t seen in generations — and companies have been weighing in, too.

But most people aren’t just satisfied by the slew of messages landing in their email inboxes stating a company's support for justice — they want to see companies back it up with action, too.

  • Nearly four in 10 Americans (37%) say the most effective thing companies can do in the wake of George Floyd’s death is commit themselves to equality in hiring and pay
  • Three in 10 (30%) say companies should invest in communities that are currently underserved
  • One in four (26%) say companies should donate funds to organizations supporting racial justice; 25% say companies should make a statement of support for racial justice
  • One in five (22%) say companies should stay out of the issue

White people are far more likely to say companies should stay out of the issue — with 27% saying so, compared to only 13% of nonwhite people.

“Companies that take actions which are authentic, credible, and effective are the most likely to see reputation gains from these activities while at the same time having the greatest impact on the community. These actions can be a true win/win as they leverage business expertise to make real societal change," said Trent Ross, chief research officer with Ipsos Corporate Reputation. "Speaking out carries risks and can be divisive. But if it genuinely reflects the social purpose and values of the business, and is backed up with evidence of action, the reward can be a powerful, positive impact on reputation and relationships.”

Ben & Jerry’s, with its long history of activism and donating to social causes, was among the companies that quickly made a large show of support with a statement calling to “dismantle white supremacy.”

Lego, a company less associated with social justice causes, said it would donate $4 million to organizations dedicated to supporting black children and educating children about racial equality. It also asked its partners to temporarily stop marketing sets that involve police officers, firefighters and one set involving the White House, according to industry publication The Toy Book.

“Companies that have been addressing these issues all along, like Nike and Ben & Jerry’s, are in great position to drive the me to we conversation,” said Jessica Schneider, a president with Ipsos in North America. “In this time, many companies feel like they need to step up and make an impression regardless – but customers will be watching to see if they back them up with action.”

When it comes to things people have done themselves, social media is the most common outlet: 21% of Americans say they’ve posted online to advocate for equality or action.

  • 15% of people say they’ve signed a petition, 14% say they’ve added to their reading list to understand the situation better, and 13% say they’ve participated in organized social media activities like Blackout Tuesday
  • One in 10 (9%) say they’ve donated to causes supporting African American advancement or organizations supporting racial justice
  • 5% say they went to a protest or a vigil
  • 4% say they donated to a political candidate or called an elected leader to express their opinion
  • 59% say they did none of the above

Young people have been most active: 18 to 34-year-olds were more than twice as likely to say they attended a protest or donated to causes supporting black advancement. People 55 and older were more likely to say they had not taken action — three quarters (75%) said they had done none of the above.

The author(s)

  • Ben Meyerson Newsletter editor

Society