“I am both impatient and disgusted.” So declares a letter on race sent on June 1st by Mary Barra, chief executive of General Motors (GM), to all of its suppliers. She is outraged by the killing of George Floyd, the latest in a long string of deaths of unarmed black Americans at the hands of the police. The response of business to the problem should be to “stop asking why and start asking what”, she wrote. Ms Barra put GM’s thousands of suppliers on notice that the firm will not tolerate racism and will stand up against injustice.
It is a sentiment that is echoing across USA Inc. Ken Frazier, Merck’s boss, declared, “This African-American man, who could be me or any other African-American man, was being treated as less than human.” Racial flare-ups are commonplace in America, but the intensity and breadth of the corporate response this time seem different. On June 8th, Arvind Krishna, IBM’s boss, sent a letter to Congress advocating changes to how policing is done, making clear that his firm will not make its facial-recognition software available for racial profiling. Darren Walker, head of the Ford Foundation, a philanthropic organization, has spoken to two dozen CEOs recently and reports that “everyone is riveted…the murder of George Floyd has gripped the psyche of white Americans like nothing I’ve seen in my lifetime.” A huge number of firms, including The Economist, recognize they need to do more. Source: https://www.economist.com/business/2020/06/11/bosses-say-they-want-to-tackle-racial-injustice